I did. I missed the first telecast because it was Valentine’s Day and I had hoodwinked the spouse into watching Twilight with me, and it seemed rather like pushing my luck to suggest he now watch a cookery show with me. I am a new convert to cookery shows. I am a new convert to cooking. Seriously speaking. And paradoxically, while I could sit and watch back to back cookery shows all day with my interest not paling for a microsecond, my time in the kitchen is limited to approximately ten minutes after which I start finding the task at hand drudgery and wonder what I could do to speed cook the dish in question, and berate myself for choosing a dish that takes more time than a commercial break to actually become edible. My favourite method of cooking is to list out the ingredients, detail the way they need to be cut, chopped, pureed to the cook, enter when all the preparations have been done, toss in the stuff, stir a bit and trail out leaving the hapless woman to stir and stir or watch until done. Delegation. Delegation. That is the key to effective multitasking. Although, at this point in the day, the only multitasking I need to be doing is rushing to the seat in front of the telly to watch more cookery shows.
Ergo, I sobbed a bit when Masterchef India got over. And almost had a complete nervous breakdown when Masterchef Australia got over. I didn’t enter the kitchen anymore, I wasn’t trawling through recipe books, I wasn’t planning anymore meals, I was, the unkindest cut of all, not looking forward to eating any meals. The world was a dank, grey place, and I was stuck in a limbo between dal roti sabji and the occasional chicken curry. And then came the announcement that Masterchef USA would be telecast soon. Oxygen mask slapped on and deep breaths drawn. The world was rosy back again. I went back to the television and tried to hunt down Food Food, the channel launched by celebrity chef Sanjay Kapoor. I watched Aditya Bal take very insipid and uninterested looking participants through live cooking demos in his Chakh Le India. (I like this man, even though I don’t actually trust thin chefs ever, he actually throws food together with a love for the edible stuff that eschews all formality of plating and such like which makes no sense to gourmands like me who just want to eat), and I watched Nigella, and thought, here is a role model for me, we both certainly have similar proportions and similar dark hair, now all that remains for me is to work on the orgasmic noises she makes while eating. On second thoughts, doing so would most likely make the spouse a little concerned and have me frogmarched to the family GP for a mental health evaluation, so I dropped the idea and stuck to non verbal expressions of my appreciation of whatever it was that I was ingesting. And I watched Vicky Ratnani being mad on Gourmet Guru and cringed at Maria Goretti being nonsensical fetch all woman with only task at hand to put things into an oven to bake at a predetermined temperature. I actually sat and planned out menus again. The joy of food was returning to my pallid life. And then Masterchef US happened. Gordon Ramsay, bottle blonde and fake tanned, presided over the proceedings with the kind of meanness one cringed at. Tears flowed freely, family celebrated when aprons were won, and much ado was made of backstories, with one contestant talking about her mother who died four years ago for more minutes than it seemed to take her to get her dish ready. And then there was the software engineer who had definitely snorted something illegal before turning up in front of the camera and got heckled at by Ramsay for his attempts to make a bouillabaisse, which we were told takes two days to make. He whizzed around pretend talking French, got caught out by Ramsay, was rejected by Ramsay, bawled his eyes out looking as evil as Chucky, making me want to scream at the judges not to take him in, he would hex the other participants. And I realised I needed someone to hate on this show with a passion, and this guy could be it. Ramsay was the perfect counterpoint to his fellow judges, the one cool and precise and the other a little unsure and reticent, a retreating presence on television despite his rather substantial physical presence. And did Ramsay match upto Preston? Nope. They’re opposite ends of the spectrum. Preston was supporting, nurturing, gentle, although acidic when required. Ramsay is Mean. With the capital M. And that makes it fun.
I loved it. It was miles worse than the Indian version, which I had then thought overflowing with too much drama to be taken seriously enough for me to look at it as a cookery show. But then it is not a cookery show, I realised. It is a reality show about a cooking contest. Once I had made the fine distinction in my head, I was fine and I even had a snort of the chai I was drinking go up my nose when one contestant decided to make mac and cheese with cheese butterflies. The child meandered into the room in the aimless manner that children have and took a look at what I was watching. “You’re watching Masterchef again!” he shrieked in what seemed like pain. “Are you goingtu start cooking again!” So much for validation of my cooking skills. I think I should stick to being a cookery show addict, who hates to cook. Anymore of you around?