The first session of TopChef 2022 had me glued to the television (and twitter) until very late. As usual, everyone complained about the length of the show, the commercials, etc. and this year, on top of that, about the absence of Michel Sarran.
As if we had forgotten the very long shows of previous years…
In short, like every year, the first show is not too exciting. Careful observation of the candidates who have been put forward by video extracts or by their bio gives a small idea of who will be eliminated. The level of the dishes is generally below what the candidates will produce as they progress in the competition, and there are "types" in the cast: the good student, the traveller, the gaping, positive optimist, the Belgians, the big head…
The new "product of the season" is black garlic, after yuzu, lemon caviar, cromesquis are totally out, "greenstronomy" is entering the pen of pompous neologisms destined to disappear. But "eco / organic / sustainable" cuisine will be the theme of the season, after having been so present in previous seasons.
I enjoyed it. It was enjoyable, appetising and I like it long. I had a bit of a laugh on Twitter, we all thought one contestant reminded us of Justine, another of Michel Sarran and we started to have a good laugh.
Now let's bitch a bit...
This unknown Oriental cuisine, that unknown : Baba Ghanoush, not "Ganoush".
Apart from couscous and basic mezes, this show showed a certain lack of knowledge of the vocabulary of oriental cuisine. After Philippe Etchebestwho puts tajine in the feminine, it was Stéphane Rottenberg who got his feet wet with the pronunciation of Baba Ghanoush, in Arabic بابا غنوج , which is pronounced Baba Ranouch, Baba Ranouj or Baba Ranoug, depending on where you are, but never — at least among Arabic speakers — Baba Gannouch, as he said. The غ at the beginning of the second word is always pronounced like a rolled R in Spanish. You can listen to some pronunciations on this site.
Well, it's just vocabulary, but it offends my "Arabised" and very fond of Lebanese foodear.
Team Ottolenghi: burning your aubergines
I was more dismayed by the mockery of burnt aubergines, even though they are a delicacy — which I make regularly. Here are some aubergines at different stages of roasting/burning:
There is the grilled aubergine and the burnt aubergine. The "burnt" aubergine, of course, is only the skin and, if it is cut in half, the slice, which is burnt. The rest, the inside, remains a melting and tasty flesh.
The burnt part is very thin, a very fine film, which will break into flakes and season the flesh of the aubergine. You don't swallow all the burnt part, of course, but by scraping the flesh you are going to eat, to separate it, you raise it with little bits of burnt part.
So, yes, burnt flesh is carcinogenic. It is also, in small doses, a delicious addition to dishes.
Langoustine ice cream, fish livers, no, it's not disgusting
— Emilie Lopez ⭐️⭐️ (@emilielopez) February 16, 2022
Here, we are, amha, in the level of reaction of the ten year old who doesn't want to get out of his fries, and not in the state of mind of people who watch a cooking contest and who should have an open mind to new experiences.
Cooking is all about making "unappetising" things (to taste, to whet the appetite, to awaken the taste for…) delicious.
It's a transformation process, and I would advise anyone who has been disgusted by fish liver condiment or blood sausage… have you ever wondered how it's made, blood sausage? Or sausage? Or foie gras? Have you ever collected meat before putting it in a tray and butchered it yourself? Or do you simply refuse to imagine what will produce your nuggets and chicken legs?
Well, I admit, attending the Eid sacrifice in the country may have toughened me up a bit. In fact no, even the first time I had no problem. Afterwards, I skinned a half-boar given to me in my kitchen, and fiddled with fish in all directions, I touched slimy, cold, coloured fish… but that's what cooking is all about, her work on the catfish was far from the grilled sheep's heads.
For your information, fish livers are delicious, like monkfish cheeks, they can be used to give a kick (another Top Chef word) to a fumet, a sauce… and on a fresh fish, it is no worse than a tartar. And fish ovaries are the tarama base! (Oops, sorry for the disgusting revelation…)
As for snails, they are a classic of French gastronomy. And when I was little, I liked to play with snails and let them walk around on my arms. Jesus Christ, people, get out into nature for a bit…
Being HPI is not having a big head
The link below explains things perfectly.
— Myrtille (@Myrtill07135288) February 17, 2022
I must obviously not be the only one to have been shocked by the violent reactions to the "HPI" candidate: one can be very intelligent without being HPI, but an HPI has a particular, "abundant" mode of functioning. If you master it, you succeed and border on genius, if you don't, you get lost and… as Eliott rightly said, he lost his test because he couldn't concentrate.
Another example of what an HPI is is Audrey Fleurot in the excellent — but less realistic — series of the same name.
What about my kitchen?
I've long since given up trying to "reproduce" TopChef recipes, but I did like a few ideas tonight.
- the catfish, unfeasible in Morocco (go find a catfish in the small streams that dry up part of the year), but the fish liver condiment is tempting me, I'm going to have another chat with my favourite fishmonger…
- the apple-celery mix (but you can only find very small celery here, about the size of a large closed fist)
- the apple-chicken mixture
- apple and tuna ceviche
- the black garlic and miso ice cream, because I have some in my cupboards and I know that black garlic is very mild, almost sweet, it's not a very spicy garlic
- the cauliflower-vanilla-pear mix
Taste combinations to be tested soon.