There’s a certain type of person who’ll go to great lengths to obtain perfection in the kitchen. Driven. Stubborn. And maybe just a little bit insane.
Two recent NPR stories demonstrate this amply, particularly Sunday’s All Things Considered piece on Jeff Varasano, the guy who showed a nation of home-pizza bakers how to break their ovens in the pursuit of a good pie. There was, of course, the famous snipping off of the self-cleaning-oven safety lock with garden shears, documented on Varasano’s blog. And then there were these incidents: “a drop of sauce once touched the oven’s glass window. The glass was so hot the cool drop of sauce caused it to explode. Another time, a clam he used for a pizza topping fell off the dough, ignited and burned a hole straight through the bottom of the oven.” Oh, by the way, this was during a dinner party. Varasano says he’s on a “first-name basis” with his oven repair guy.
The second story is from Weekend Edition and documents the obsessively accurate replica of Julia Child’s kitchen (pictured) at Washington DC’s National Museum of American History. Child used this kitchen, designed by her husband, Paul, to film three of her television shows, and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution when she moved from Massachusetts to California:
“The museum’s exhibit is called ‘Bon Appetit’ and includes Child’s beloved Garland restaurant range, cabinets in cool greens and blues, a dime-store dish drainer and her black KitchenAid refrigerator complete with magnets. They even brought her junk drawer.
“In its new location, the 14-by-20-foot kitchen appears exactly as it was the day museum staff took it apart in Cambridge — down to the jar of Skippy peanut butter on the countertop.”