While channel surfing the other day, I caught an episode of Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. It was a glorious reminder of the days before Food Network turned the cooking show into a well-oiled machine and the celebrity chef into an industry. In this day and age of the multiple take, it was fun to see Julia and Jacques in all their minimally edited glory.
For instance, every time Julia or Jacques used their hands to work with the food, Julia would crack, “Now we use our immaculately clean hands to…” At one point, a close-up revealed that Jacques had black crud under his nail. That would’ve definitely been edited out of today’s cooking shows, where a raw chicken on the set merits a gratuitous lesson in hand-washing.
The other thing that struck me was how many tips I picked up from a single episode (this particular one focused on crepes):
- The fastest way to separate eggs (and to keep the yolk intact) is to crack multiple eggs into a bowl, then fish out the yolks with your hand by cupping them.
- Never flambe anything by pouring the alcohol directly from the bottle onto the dish/pan. Pour the alcohol into a spoon first. Otherwise the flames could travel up back into the bottle and explode it. Which makes me even more wary of flambeing anything, ever.
- Pour your crepe batter onto the edge of the pan, not the middle. Quickly tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Always keep the batter moving.
- You can stack crepes on each other, spreading different fillings between them to create a cake-like creature (see photo below).
- Perfection is boring–what you see in a Martha Stewart/Barefoot Contessa/Giada De Laurentiis show is not real life. Not most of ours, anyway.