The Frugal Gourmet
I have been cooking since I was 3 years old. My first dish was egg salad, my mom would boil the eggs for me and put them in a bowl to cool. After they cooled, I peeled and mashed them with a fork. My mom would help me gather my ingredients, we’d go over what spices I would use and why cinnamon was not the right choice for egg salad (LOL). My egg salads are fancier now but since I wasn’t wielding anything sharper than a butter knife then, my ingredients were limited. Eggs, mayo, a little relish, salt, pepper, celery seeds and a smidge of orange zest. My parents always got a kick out of the orange zest after the little shock of the incongruency of the flavor with everything else. I was very proud of my addition of orange zest. The early Saturday morning children’s programming on PBS transitioned to food programming mid-morning, some of my fondest memories are of watching The Frugal Gourmet with Jeff Smith and Julia Childs and Jacques Pépin. I picked up adding orange zest from watching The Frugal Gourmet, I thought it was the signature of a sophisticated cook and dish. I gave up the orange zest in my egg salad long ago. My mom had all of Jeff Smiths cookbooks and in addition to watching his show, I read his cookbooks often leafing through the pages familiarizing myself with the language of cooking. Jeff Smith ended up being one of the early victims of cancel culture, and rightfully so. I was extremely young at the time so most of the details were beyond my comprehension. It seemed at the time that there had been some abuse of his staff, as an adult revisiting the drama it was accusations of solicitation of sex with minors that ended his career. His show was canceled his books were pulled, I haven’t seen a Frugal Gourmet book in Barnes and Noble ever. Perhaps they can be found on Amazon, I have not looked. The cases were settled out of court and criminal charges never filed. Thinking of the insistence that artificial intelligence will be less “problematic” than human beings is one of the founding principles by which we are being encouraged to accept and transition to reliance on this new creature that is apparently unproblematic and therefore entirely trustworthy. As I stated above it seems like Jeff Smiths cancelation was justified, however I can’t help but think about how much knowledge we have lost and will lose to cancel culture. I loathe the saying, “perception is reality.” No, it is not, we all know eyewitness accounts have been shown to be unreliable time and again. I draw attention to this to demonstrate that we tend to discard the message and the messenger, the knowledge with the teacher if any private transgressions are brought to light. We can separate the message from the messenger in most cases. So here we are about to possibly be stripped of one of the most magical things humans do for and with one another, share and pass down knowledge. Would you rather be placed in the care of some machine, or do we believe all people are innocent until proven guilty? I don’t think Jeff Smith was particularly brilliant, he certainly was doing a service at the time in imparting some sophisticated cooking knowledge and techniques in a practical manner. His predicament was particularly poignant to me as he was a figure in my very early childhood and one of the reasons, I developed an interest in cooking. I am many tv chefs and cookbooks deep into cooking now. I have spent a lot of time reading cookbooks, which I find relaxing. Incidentally just reading cookbooks regularly is a key to becoming a better cook. As the world changes, it seems like, and I have the distinct impression that physical books will be entirely banned. The authors themselves, their text, their subject matter whatever, something will be found to be “problematic” and therefore no longer available. It will be fascist to own physical books (LOL) I type this and genuinely chuckled as I am kind of joking, but I also think sadly…I am correct.
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