by Kevin Burton
When I am sad and blue, annoyed by life’s futilities, I sometimes reach for a cookbook as the remedy, for therein lies some of the best comedy this side of Bill Bryson.
Or even better, any cable TV cooking show. Food Network. Have you seen these shows?
Here’s what they do. Eschewing the simple meat and potatoes meals (which I am sure are prescribed in the Bible, somewhere, First and Second Helpings?) they take exotic ingredients, align them extravagantly and fawn over the result as you would an Impressionist painting.
If you’re hungry it’s not the place to be.
On cable, people actually sample these concoctions. They nod their heads and make bright happy throat noises (which is apparently a method of shortcircuiting the gag reflex), then we hear the clink of fork on plate, then we go to commercial.
Ah, but they do have commercials, lots of commercials. Corporations, paying good money for the privilege of having their brand associated with this spectacle. So there is maybe something to this? Something well, commercial….?
OK then, here’s my contribution to the genre; Chicken Fuzi. In choosing the name Chicken Fuzi I am fileting the contrived names they come up with for these dishes. I am also honoring the memory of my friend Sean’s dog Fuzi, his family’s dog when we were growing up in Ohio. I never had the honor of meeting Fuzi, but I know she was hugely talented.
I know this because every time Sean had a bad meal he would say disapprovingly, “My dog Fuzi can cook better than this!” Or if a singer was a touch off key, “My dog Fuzi can sing better than that!” So Fuzi deserves your respect and mine.
I decided against it, but did consider changing the spelling of Fuzi lest anyone pronounce it as “fuzzy.” “Chicken Fuzzy” is a less-than-appetizing name, I think you’ll agree. Actually Chicken Fuzzy was the dish I produced accidentally more than once in college.
It’s pronounced Foo-zee, rhymes with floozy.
So we honor the late Fuzi in the form of my culinary creation. This is a chicken-based dish. How to describe it? I’m thinking out loud and my wife is helping. “It’s a chicken….”
“A chicken plank….” my wife interjects.
“Plank? Plank! Dear one this is not vittles,” I say. “This is no mere chow. It’s not grub. This is high art. This is BBC. We do not have planks. It’s a chicken, mmmm, a chicken….uh…”
I don’t have a word so I make one up because my wife is waiting.
“It’s a chicken guantine, smothered in queso cambulet, with shaved almonds and orange peppers, topped with mushrooms, served on a bed of cabbage….”
“Queso is cheese, right? What is cambulet?” my wife wants to know.
“Well cambulet is Campbell’s, you know, cream of something or other, but you can’t say Campbell’s it’s got to sound French or something.”
“You’ve got a Spanish word and a French un-word together there.” she says. “That’s ridiculous.”
Exactly! Now she’s getting it.
So this is where my dish ends. Scroll up and read the ingredients again. It’s something you might eat or serve to someone you like, right? But on the cable show they’ve got to push well past this. They’ve got to create!
So they will add paprika and chives, leeks, steamed asparagus, cubed calamari and the legs off some South American insect. If they’ve sold enough commercials they’ll go beyond that even. And at the end of the show they will eat this stuff on camera.
That’s not dinner, that’s CSI Kitchen.