Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fantasy cooks use fantasy gear

There is no grit, grease, grime or gunk on cable TV's Food Network. It's clear its producers, directors and celebrity chefs like it that way.

Any close up of a LeCreuset full of braised chuck roast sliding into a 325-degree oven reveals a shining, flawless rack that looks like it just came from the foundry.

An overhead shot of olive oil basted, rosemary chicken slapped on a barbecue grill shows gleaming stainless-steel grates that have never before seen a Delmonico, cheeseburger, St. Louis ribs or any other brother fowl.

Check most any kitchen oven or outdoor grill in America and I'm sure you'll see the grease and grime ghosts of Thanksgiving dinners, exploding birthday cakes and dried-out sirloin tips of gatherings and parties past.

Even the most fastidious cook is more concerned with how the ham casserole looks to guests than whether the oven door is ready for its photo close-up.

Food Network hosts such as Ina Garten and Bobby Flay entertain us with their cooking skills. But I'm sure that without the technicians and helpers that are part of the production staff, they'd be stuck in the sink with Brillo pads at the ready just like the rest of us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Oh, Canada, my Canada

Jumped into the car, cruised the freeway, crossed the bridge and cleared the border.

It's really that simple in these parts to go international at a moment's notice. A quick trip to Canada always provides a cultural paradigm shift that goes beyond stereotyping of fresh donuts, hockey sticks and health care happiness.

The two-lane backroads, and even the 401 and 402 freeways outside the major cities, offer an idyllic view of farms and rolling hills unobstructed by advertising billboards.

Mental gymnastics go into high gear as the American mind converts posted kilometers-per-hour into more familiar miles-per-hour. Look out, too, because the Ontario Provincial Police are always ready to give costly lessons for people with faulty math skills.

Even with the American economy in the tank, a U.S. greenback still yields anywhere from five to 10 percent premium over the Canadian dollar. And, as much as Americans complain about the price of gas at $2.75 a gallon, the prevailing rate across Ontario racked up at 90 cents a liter.

What a country, eh!