Last Call: What recipe would you teach a person who had zero cooking experience?

Illustration for article titled Last Call: What recipe would you teach a person who had zero cooking experience?
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Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

I flew cross-country last week, which means I caught up on my queue of unwatched Queer Eye episodes. (This season is as delightful as everyone’s said it is.) But a small culinary detail of one episode struck me: In an episode titled “Soldier Returns Home,” food guru Antoni Porowski is tasked with teaching the returned soldier, Brandonn, how to cook one go-to dinner recipe for his family. Brandonn admits he’s never cooked a meal in his life—honestly never, and he seems genuine about that—and so Porowski recommends he learn… pasta carbonara?

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Pasta carbonara isn’t foolproof. It required Brandonn to separate eggs, whisk in the correct type of cheese, make sure the dish doesn’t congeal. Brandonn didn’t know the difference between tomato sauce and tomato paste and admitted he didn’t know how to hold a knife properly. Carbonara seemed to me overly ambitious, a dish that requires too much culinary intuition for a complete newbie.

So, what would have been a simpler, less risky dish to teach Brandonn? I brainstormed a bit while carefully meting out my compliments-of-Delta miniature pretzels. When my own culinarily challenged brother asked me for an easy date-night recipe, I gave him this one for baked chicken. Maybe something like chicken quesadillas could have been a crowd-pleaser for Brandonn’s little kids? Or maybe pesto-sauce pasta? A one-pan skillet concoction?

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I’d be curious to hear the first dish you learned to cook when you were just getting started in the kitchen. Surely it wasn’t pasta carbonara.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

Tebow Kneeled First

A grilled cheese in a pan proper. It’s a really low-risk activity (you fuck up? Try again!) but it teaches you a lot of things: how to drop butter in a hot pan, how to set up stations, how to cook things even on both sides and all the way through.

Pair that with another: tomato soup (the EASIEST of all soups to make from scratch). Now you learn about timing multiple items (5 cheeses at 3 minutes each), and how to simmer and salt to taste...

K. I might be making this tonight now.