Not Popcorn

This recent article was a lot of fun to write, and though several entries had to be cut – most notably Goodfellas, which contains a memorable scene where garlic is shaved into sizzling olive oil with a razor – it’s still pretty fun to read as well. I’m particularly pleased that Can’t Stop the Music made it in. My food editor gives me fairly free reign, bless her, but I did think that might be a little over the top for the Ann Arbor News. I sneak in what I can…(I also don’t write the titles. Just sayin’.)
As art or whatever reality TV really is imitates life, Top Chef contestants were given a challenge on the last episode to make a meal based on their favorite movie. A contestant who I thought had a lot of potential, a quiet guy from Mexico who made a great-looking taco in one challenge that didn’t even rate any comment, was sent home.
I don’t spend a great deal of time on Top Chef challenges in my head, but this one was up my alley. I wish I’d been paired with that chef, who really hasn’t had a chance to shine (this was a team challenge). What better movie to translate to a plate than West Side Story? One could have concocted a great fusion dish, maybe shrimp with black beans and fried plantains, with a little frisee in a sherry vinaigrette to add some nice sharp acid.
Alas, I was not consulted. And doubtless, my efforts are never quite reverent enough about food, which, face it, all ends up in the same place anyway, for Top Chef. As is so often the case, the food reaches a little too high to really inspire anyone in a normal kitchen. This season’s batch of cheftestants is particularly annoying and dull, and I still haven’t been able to latch on to any particular one since absolutely zero have so far displayed any sense of humor. I feared as much when I saw the fauxhawks – can there be a stupider, more universally unflattering hair style? The group collectively has 2 expressions: consternation when one’s food choices are questioned and smug smiles when those choices are rewarded somehow.
Of course, the best thing about Top Chef is knowing that host Padma is completely baked for 90% of her camera time. Like watching ET listening primarily to Drew Barrymore’s lines – “I’m only pretending to be a princess,” she says earnestly when trick or treating – the experience of watching Top Chef kicks up a notch as you wait for Padma to observe that her sorbet is too cold or that “you could DEEP FRY my TOE and BATter it and it would TASTE deLICIous” (caps indicating that stoner problem with volume control). I’ll keep watching, but like Grace Slick, just want somebody to love. Come on, show.

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