After watching a few dozen Masterchef's, Australia/New Zealand/Britain something vaguely disturbing has crept into my mind.
I watch as dozens of home cooks attempt to give the judges what the contestants think the judges are looking for. Why not?
What I see are dishes, some very elegantly plated with the main ingredients piled one on another. Celeriac puree then the steak then the baby carrots. Everything teetering about to fall over. Same with the incredible deserts. Almost too beautiful to eat.
Everyone knows what I mean.
OK. That’s what’s ‘trending heavily’ now. Or at least last month.
This is not what’s bothering me. It’s the “almost too beautiful to eat”.
What happens when we see a beautiful culinary masterpiece carefully, lovingly set in front of us? Something we are willing to pay our hard earned money to then own. To do to it as we wish.
We look at the little teetering mountain of edible delight. We think: ‘This little beauty is setting me back fifty bucks but JUST LOOK AT IT! It’s beautiful!
What happens inside our brain when we then take hold of two sterling silver cold hard tools specifically designed to destroy such beauty?
We stare at the object of our desire then with all the conscience of a Jeffery Dalmer .We attack fast! Intent to destroy and obliterate and consume all on the plate.
The beautiful offering. A veritable ‘virgin-on-a-plate’ becomes an old broken down used and abused ‘smear on a plate’.
Nobody wants to even glance down for fear of the enviable deep feelings of guilt and disgust coming up like bile.
“Waiter! We are finished with this plate. Please take it away.”
I believe this dichotomy of emotions really does have an affect on diners. We leave the one star restaurant vaguely ashamed. Ashamed of what we have done. What we have spent. Knowing, like an addict, we will be back to repeat the gruesome deed again when we can.
I offer a salve to our dark hearts.
Encourage chefs to plate different items on the plate with some small distance between each other. We can then delicately choose a morsel of mashed spuds with perhaps a drip a gravy added. A modest mouthful. Then a taste of the green beans located well away from the Salisbury steak.
No more destruction of the beautiful tower with the first stab of the fork. No more shame as we watch the ‘Omelette Norvegienne’ look like a large goose dropping after the first forkful.
What damage is this doing to the psyche? Does this explain why so many ‘grazers’ must always be seeking a new darkly lit banquette to do their gruesome work? Like the shame of the man walking down the street with his wife and having a women approach him and asking: “How come you never talk to me when you see me in town?”