One of the tasks on that episode was to put together breakfast using ingredients from an enormous range of canned food, within 15 minutes. The contestants were visibly distressed, mortified even. I’m talking furrowed eyebrows, heavy gasps, bleeped out expletives and muffled screams. You might think that’s the archetypal reaction to any task on any reality show. However it was not so much the smallness of the deadline that bothered them, as the prospect of dealing with canned food.
Sure, I understand that they are culinary geniuses in the making. But genius must not have to frown on lesser mortals who may resort to cooking out of cans. “They’re not trash cans! There’s a difference right?” I scoffed, looking over at Mum. She didn’t return my doubtful laughter. Instead of it came the dry observation, “That food does taste like trash.”
The reason I mulled over this at all is because of the deeper nature of the problem. I could foresee an impending crisis.
You can count the dishes that I can make on fingers of one hand and you would still have fingers to spare. ‘Instant, ready, canned, packaged…’ that stuff is designed with the likes of me in mind. Until that fateful day of reality TV viewing, the tin and plastic packets had appeared almost friendly and handy. Now, I won’t be surprised if images of screeching Top Chef contestants haunt me whenever I decide to take at shot at convenient cooking.
Alright, I have to stop pretending that I knew nothing of the hazards of canned food- not only does it taste like the regurgitated version of real food but also poses serious health risks. There is no escaping the facts, no matter how much one may fake oblivion. Yet I feel freshly cheated by this stale world where everything happens in 2 minutes. Maybe some sick part of me was still seeing hope.
Nothing that happens in 2 minutes can be anything except an atrocious charade. How can one simply dismiss all the steady processes involved? For, in the process lies the magic. And what is already processed is only a done to death magic trick. I imagine nobody has said that before.
Screw Popeye for having us believe that all ye really needs is a can opener. I know it would have been ridiculous for him to handpick spinach, clean it, chop it, steam it and stir it while Bluto scored with Olive. Still (thanks to a quick Google search) I can safely assume that while he beat the big man silly, the Bisphenol A of the tin containers would eventually have left Popeye with increased chances of fertility/reproductive problems, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.
On an even unhappier note, all the magic processes of the kitchen will have to be learned.