Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Dining at the visually stunning Tchoup Chop Restaurant run by Emeril Lagasse at the Universal Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando a few years ago, my wife and I both marveled at the Asian fusion cuisine. In one entrée, Emeril took mouth watering Kalua pork and mingled it into an amazing chow mein that my wife, Jennifer did share a bite or two.
Back home, Jennifer and I watched Emeril Live on the Food Network as Emeril re-created the dish on television. Not one who’s intimidated by cooking, Jennifer happily agreed to tackle this dish for us in the Fischer kitchen.
Take a look at the recipe’s ingredients from the Food Network website:
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black and white sesame seeds
Pinch ground 5-spice blend
Pinch ground nori (ground seaweed)
3/4 teaspoon Hawaiian salt
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder roast (Boston butt or picnic roast), at room temperature
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
8 ounces fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
1/2 cup julienned bok choy
1/2 cup julienned carrots
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup chicken stock
The highlighted items were especially difficult to find, another common element on cooking shows. Those marquee chefs assume the average cook can easily get their hands on all these exotic ingredients. I don’t know where Emeril shops, but the truth is, Pick ‘n’ Save doesn’t carry ground seaweed.
The website claimed the recipe’s prep time was 10 minutes. Jennifer’s was 30 minutes.
While the final product was fantastic, it took several days to find all that was needed for the recipe. And it wasn’t cheap to prepare, costing close to $100.
It’s not just Emeril. It’s every chef on television.
Of course they make everything look effortless. They have an army of help wearing chef coats and aprons off-camera. Not often do the on-camera chefs spell out actual preparation time and the exact ingredients and amounts needed, and never do they discuss what it will actually cost to concoct, “Asian Spiced-Pan Roasted Moulard Duck Breast in a Chili Sapporo Beer Broth with Oyster Mushrooms and Udon Noodles.”
That’s on the broadcast end. Move over to the print side.
Sara Dickerman has written about food for the New York Times Magazine, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Seattle magazine. In a recent piece on slate.com, Dickerman says there’s a problem with her kind, the hedonistic food press:
“Turn to the food section of your city paper and you'll learn where to spend $120 a pound on jamón ibérico or where to taste a flight of pricy olive oils,” Dickerman writes.
“As an industry, we rhapsodize about la cucina povera—that is, ‘poor food’ like polenta, beans, and braise-worthy cuts of meat like short-ribs and pigs trotters—but we rarely talk about cooking in terms of dollars and cents. When food writers and producers advocate economy, they're usually talking about time—churning out recipes for fast, easy, everyday weeknight meals that can be prepared in minutes. The dollar-savvy recipe is far less common. Why, even as the economic news turns grim, is it so unusual for the food media to take cost into account?”
Dickerman offers reasons in her slate.com piece, including the perception that cooks in the home are Emeril wanna-be’s, and the food press feels the obligation to push advertisers’ products.
She raises an interesting issue. Food inflation is the worst it’s been in decades. Would it hurt the food press to be even more informational by including an extra line or two about pricing?
The same holds true for TV chefs. Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet’s longtime shtick was to, with bold ink, itemize the cost of meals he prepared.
I’m not suggesting Emeril or Wolfgang or anybody else dumb down their offerings to pedestrian, economic swill. But take the current state of affairs at the supermarket. Combine that with the great interest the public still has for making and eating fine food. Isn’t the cost an important piece of the story you’re trying to tell?
To read previous Culinary no-no’s, please click CULINARY NO-NO under my TAGS section.