Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Too Long; Didn't Cook

Someone needs to tell Megan McArdle to step away from the food blogging. It is not going well. She is now telling us that:

1.) Cooking an ear of corn is too much work.

These recipes are often also quite labor intensive. In spicy dishes, cooking time and lots of ingredients can substitute for prep work. When you're simplifying the flavors, that means more prep work, since you can't use processed stuff from the supermarket, and precision cooking. That corn dish above isn't terribly difficult, but you do need to shuck all those ears of corn, then slice the kernels off, then make brown butter while watching it intently to ensure it doesn't go from "brown" to "carbonized," then boil the kernels for exactly a minute in salted water, then fish them out with a strainer, and plop them into the pan with the brown butter ... and a lot of you thought "sheesh, never mind" sometime around Step 3. Moreover, unlike spicy ragouts or casseroles, all this prep has to be done shortly before you eat, meaning there's no lounging around with the guests in the living room during cocktail hour. Or arriving home from work half an hour before serving dinner.

We also learn here that:

2.) McArdle usually does not use fresh ingredients and therefore finds shucking corn to be onerous.

3.) McArdle doesn't understand the concept of simply preparing and eating a quality ingredient to enjoy its (nearly) pure flavor.

4.) McArdle find it much more convenient to buy prepared ingredients and do most of the cooking in advance or in a crock pot.

5.) McArdle wants precise instructions, she does not want to cook to taste.

6. McArdle still wants to coat everything will fat.

And let's not forget the funny: McArdle invariably ruins every recipes by blithely making everything up as she goes along. Perhaps she enjoys the result and that is why she cooks the way she does, as she should.

And our new household favorite: chicken roasted with Thomas Keller's recipe, above a pan filled with new potatoes, frozen artichoke hearts and pearl onions. Without all the spices, you get the simple, perfect flavors of the underlying ingredients. This is the sort of cooking that April Bloomfield's new cookbook aims at, and I heartily recommend that you try it.
 In the linked recipe, Keller specifically says he wants a dry heat; he even coats the poultry with salt to draw out moisture. McArdle adds water-heavy frozen ingredients directly under the chicken where it can steam the chicken while bathing the vegetables in chicken juice and fat. To retain one's elite status one must disseminate the latest elite wisdom but that doesn't mean one has to follow it.

Which leads us to our next lesson:

7. McArdle wants to convince everyone she is an elite foodie when she is really a 1950s housewife whose tastes do not match her culinary reach. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it just doesn't project the image McArdle wants, so we are entertained by justifications for doing what she wants even when it isn't elite.


Anonymous said...

Shorter McMegan: My $1500 thermomix cannot so much as cook corn and am pissed

OBS said...

Hey, McMegs: just leave the corn husk on, soak the whole ear in water for a while, then grill it (you have a grill, right? Or some fancy fake-grill-gadget you can use?). Peel back the husk and use it as a handle to eat the corn straight from the cob, like a normal person. If you insist, you could cut the kernels off after the corn is cooked if you're gonna add them to another dish.

Or, for something that would appeal to your fucked-up Glibertarian sensibilities, recognize your complete incompetence in the kitchen, go Galt and invent a super-deluxe-automatic-corn-de-husking-cooking-and-brown-buttering-cooking robot that you can sell to other terrible cooks.

Susan of Texas said...

Oh! I forget to mention that McArdle doesn't appear to be using the Thermomix much. If cutting corn off the cob is too much effort, the Thermomix must be torture.

McArdle needs servants. She seems to think that they are just moochers who lurk around the top of stairs waiting to fall and sue their employer, but I've never seen anyone who would enjoy ordering around the help more.

Downpuppy said...

The corn this week has been damn good. I got a couple ears at Trader Joes last week after a mixup left me on Memorial Drive - knockout.

Usually, we don't get good corn here until July. Have some Stop & Shop now planned for tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

"frozen artichoke hearts"

I'm sure Keller would just love that added touch.

Susan of Texas said...

I had some good corn on the cob last week. The best food I ever ate was peaches in Georgia in July, lobster out of the water in Maine, blackberries picked off bushes in Washington. McArdle doesn't seem to understand this concept. Maybe she sees it as liberal propaganda but the best food is fresh and in season.

If McArdle had a cook she could lounge around the living room during cocktail hour every day. She could have dinner waiting for her and what's-his-name every night. Wages are lower than ever-surely it would be worthwhile for her to have someone come in and cook for her.

Clever Pseudonym said...

With every post Megan writes about food, she actually seems to show an almost contempt for cooking. It's why she has so many useless gadgets; to simplify the work it takes as much as possible. Since food is closely tied with class, Megan knows she has to pretend to have a refined palate and the talent to serve it, but she's too lazy and convinced of her superiority to develop any long term skills as a cook. She has to mention truffles in every other food post, not because they are a delicate and rare treat, but to make sure everyone knows she can afford them.

And why in the hell does she fish corn out instead of just straining it over the sink?

Anonymous said...

The only problem with using fresh corn in a recipe is that you'll realize how much better it tastes than frozen corn so when winter rolls around, you won't be able to go back to using the frozen stuff.


Professor Fate said...

Best corn I ever had was my Uncle's who used to grow it in his backyard in the Rockaways - you'd pick it - shuck it and by the time you'd finished the water was ready and you put them in. work of minutes really - and it was also something of family bonding moment as the cousins would shuck the corn together - and somehow my uncle found time for martinis as well.

Bill Murray said...

I SING about de Megan blues,
So often you want someting new;
Wid your desire I'll now comply,
An' sing about de Megan-shuckin' blues.

 Megan cook corn, I don't care,
 Megan cook corn, I don't care,
 Megan cook corn, I don't care.

Dey say all tings am for de best,
I nebber shall forget till the day I die,
Ole Megan and de blue corn shuck.

No cooked corn, an' I still don't care

Anonymous said...

"In spicy dishes, cooking time and lots of ingredients can substitute for prep work."

what is she talking about?? (no, I won't click)
has she ever tried making Mexican mole? There are tons of simple, whole foods recipes and lots of labor intensive whole food recipes.

Kathy said...

McArdle wants to convince everyone she is an elite foodie when she is really a 1950s housewife whose tastes do not match her culinary reach.

That comment sums it up perfectly. The woman dislikes cooking, but wants to be considered a gourmet chef. Just as she doesn't have a clue about economics and supports failed conservative notions, but wants to be seen as a new voice of cutting-edge economics. Just as she loves to give her "opinion" on the latest scandal du jour, but won't heed verifiable facts and figures .

Kathy said...

"In spicy dishes, cooking time and lots of ingredients can substitute for prep work."

HUH? The longer you cook something the better it tastes? Or is it the more quickly you cook?

Batocchio said...

Yeah, it really is revealing. As usual: Megan thinks she can master anything with little effort. Megan thinks she's an expert when she's not. Megan values image over actual expertise. Megan values bragging about an experience far more than having a good experience in and of itself. It's similar to to right-wingers being dead to the real value of the arts. It's also typical of Randians, in that everything must be commodified.

Susan of Texas said...

People make life so much harder than it has to be because they are afraid. All the time, I see conservatives ask each other what they should be thinking about a movie or policy or statement. For some people, maintaining their position in the hierarchy through obedience to its customs and practices affects everything in their life.

Nobody cares how or what McArdle cooks. But people must feed the ego before anything else. Past trauma dictates current actions.

McArdle was thrown into one of the most elite schools in country from P.S. Whatever Elementary school. Her family was new money. She has hinted that parents can be cold and critical. She was picked on in school and around age 14 learned to reciprocate to protect herself. So now everything she does must be elite to assuage her bruised ego.

Rod Dreher's father was critical and made him feel unmanly and a failure. He was hazed by the boys back home at age 14 when he came home from his boarding school. He constantly stokes his grievances and spends all his time hunting down gays to assuage his bruised ego.

David Frum grew up in a wealthy and successful family. He is not that smart. Like Dreher he observes but does not understand. He was hazed at 14 by liberal boys who mocked his pretentiousness. He slavishly adores the elite.

David Brooks adores the elite as well. He worked the police beat as a reporter but scurried into arms of the elite wingnut welfare industry. No doubt someone insulted him at 14 as well and he decided that sucking up to the rich was the only way to cope.

bulbul said...

I recently saw a recipe somewhere which included instructions on how to made a chocolate ganache. According to whoever put them together, you need to heat the cream to EXACTLY 80°C, then pour it over chocolate chopped to 1 cm pieces and then let it sit for EXACTLY 10 minutes. For some reason, I immediately thought of Our Lady of the Thermomix of Alexandria because, really, who else would be that ... I don't even have an adjective to describe it.