I first learned I loved cooking through watching cooking shows as I was growing up. It’s not that I sought out the shows, but during summer vacation I’d just flip through channels while I was bored. Having zero interest in soap operas and talk shows (well, Jerry Springer was hilarious), I would end up on our local PBS station, WTTW.
WTTW aired a lot of cooking shows back in the day. While there was no single cook that I gravitated to back then, I was always mesmerized at the fact that these hosts could essentially just mix a bunch of shit together and eventually end up with a dish that I assumed was delicious. I’d learn later that the magic images of cooking shows don’t always translate into real life—they make it look way too easy.
My fascination never stopped, so as I grew older, I’d watch shows like Cook’s Illustrated, and chefs like Sara Moulton do their thing on camera. Then I discovered Jaques Pépin (my undying love for his work is well documented), and learned that good cooking doesn’t have to be fussy at all. You can use canned ingredients? Hell yeah! But now that I think about it, after all this time, I don’t recall cooking a single recipe directly from any of these shows.
One issue was back then, I had no way to pause the screen to write down all the ingredients (though DVRs eventually made it possible). Later on, I scoured the internet to find simple recipes that I could tackle on my own, but despite my religious consumption of Emeril Lagasse’s TV shows, I never once made a damn thing he did. Though I probably shouted “Bam!” more than a few times.
That’s gotten me curious, because I sure have wondered if some recipes are actually any good. Do people really cook from recipes they find on television? Do you have a favorite recipe from a TV show that you swear by? Let me know in the comments.