A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I love dessert. No, not the regular lump of vanilla ice cream trying to drown a soggy slice of apple pie. The desserts I love are works of art that take half a day to create and are just too elegant to eat. The problem is I’m no damn good at them.
Let me explain.
First of all, I can cook. Well, not really. I can put the fire to various food items; you can eat them, and they taste alright, but…. Basically, I’m a little bit more than a frozen food microwave chef, but quite a bit less than someone who’s completely competent with pots and pans. Therefore, unless I really have to, I restrict my culinary adventures to KFC – except dessert. I love dessert.
Secondly, like most people who don’t have to do it every day, I look at gorgeous food creations and think, “How hard can it be?”
And thirdly, I’m a Never Say Die type of guy. Show me a lost cause, and I’m in there like a dirty shirt.
So what happens is, Martha Stewart shows up on YouTube with a Banana Cream/ Hazelnut Torte on a field of Bavarian Chocolate with Mint Sprigs, Almond Slivers and Caramel Swirls, and I say to myself, “Hell, yeah! I can do that.” But I can’t. And we all know why. Cuz Martha has a fleet of Bavarian elves who bake the torte, sliver the almonds, swirl the caramel and bring their own chocolate. All I’ve got is a naïve belief that Ms. Stewart is America’s Sweetheart and not an evil crone who hates me. Three hours later, I’m knee deep in a nine obscenity barroom brawl. There’s a glob of brown something in the oven, defying Newton’s 3rd Law of Thermodynamics, a half a bag of spilled almonds under the fridge and a boiling pot of – “OMG! Caramel isn’t supposed to do that!” — on the stove. (And I haven’t even discovered I bought the wrong kind of chocolate — yet.) Time to surrender, slide this mess into the trash, and swear by all that’s holy to never …. But then it happens again. Martha’s made a Gingerbread Stonehenge with jelly bean Druids and a lemon zest, orange icing sun. Gingerbread’s easy — right? WRONG!
Over the years, I’ve made any number of after-dinner disasters, including a butterscotch butterfly that melted back into her chrysalis, a flock of chocolate birds that flew in all directions when the balloon exploded, and a strange frozen layered thing that slid into the sink when I wasn’t looking. I’ve carved pears, sectioned oranges and made watermelon stars – and none of them looked anything like the picture. I’ve combined, folded, melted, simmered and boiled. I’ve cut diagonally, rolled vertically, pinched, poked and prodded with a fork. I’ve sliced and I’ve iced. And all to no avail — because nothing I’ve ever done has turned out the way it does in Martha’s videos.
But don’t cry for me. Don’t weep for my defeats. I may be beaten and bent, but I’m not broken. I’m still standing.
“Do you hear me, Martha Stewart? I’m still standing. I’m still here. And as God is my witness, one of these days, one of these days, my stuff is going to look like yours. That’s right, Martha Stewart! I’m coming for you. I’m coming for you, and I’m bringing Hell with me! You don’t scare me with your perky professionalism. I’ll take you and four more like ya. And Snoop Dog, too, if he wants a piece. So get ready, Martha Stewart: I’m coming for you because I love dessert, and not you or any of your perfect videos are ever – ever — going to take that away from me.”