Sunday, February 06, 2011

French for Broth Foot Bath

While wasting time today I was led to the Wired website's list of 100 perfect gifts whether you have been naughty or nice. It is fortunate I found it post-Christmas since most of the top drool-worthy items range upwards of $400. If you have time, I would strongly suggest wandering around in it, since it is ridiculously interesting.

The item that caused me the most pause, however, was a consumer level Sous-vide. Now, full disclosure, I had no idea what it was, but I am always keen to try new cooking methods and the review talked about it in such glowing terms that I could literally feel my mouth fill up with drool, and I had yet to even see any actual consumables. The curious Tarsier I am, I immediately Googled the process and was dazzled by descriptions of 1970's France and chefs with numbers written in French next to their names. All clear signs this stuff must cook food by radiating it with the solemn power of lesser Hawaiian deities and reduce it to a single atom of calorie that is the complete essence of "tasty". I was pretty sure, after eating something that had exited this French miracle, that I would never need to eat again.

I tooled along into the section marked "Sous-vide 101" since I had no compunctions about flaunting my lack of knowledge in this arena, and since I was sure this would be the next big thing, I wanted to be fully informed so I could jiggle my expertise in the face of lesser-knowing plebs (I am coming out of the closet here; I am a total expert-addict. I want to act like I know everything - ALL THE TIME [My family: "No shit"]) and feel, let us be frank here, like a total stud.

The article is accessibly written, describing the usual cooking process and how it is so vastly inferior to this new technology that by the end you wonder if the only food you have been eating up to this point is charred tire rims (Is that where the honorific "Michelin star" came from? Being able to cook so well people will eat a tire?) I found myself bobbing my head in agreement, yes the cooking process does tend to overcook things, that is so true, and yes the shrinkage of foi gras is so costly (Usually the only way shrinkage is costly for me is in liquor to bolster flagging ...self esteem). It is true their main example was steak and my personal opinion is that any steak that has to even look at fire is overcooked (I typically cook it with my body-heat - just slap it under your shirt for a little bit. You get a bit of body-hair garnish, but then you can skip flossing) but anyone that knows me is aware I am not about to let a little thing like complete lack of relevance to my life stop me from learning something new.

The first spasm of disbelief came when I realized how often "water" was mentioned, and was confirmed when I found the easy to read directions, for people who just were not getting it yet, at the bottom of the page.
1. Season and Seal
2. Simmer
3. Serve
At this point I am willing to guarantee anyone in the Military, Cadets, and outdoor enthusiasts are smelling a finely boiled rat at this point because I was having flashbacks so strong I began to suspect the juice I was drinking had fermented. (About bleeding time - that was a whole pack of yeast) As a cadet whenever we went camping the main source of food was a small brown bag called an IMP or Individual Meal Packet. Created by the Military to provide cheap, easy, nutritious, long-lasting meals, we were gifted these by the government when they had an overstock. These self-contained sources of food had utensils, condiments, seasoning, meal, sides, bread, dessert, coffee and juice, gum, matches, napkin, and the bag could hold water over a fire to, you guessed it, boil your food. They arrived vacuum-sealed, they stayed fresh so long we used to joke about eating something that was created when you were born, and we loved them for the novelty. I hear since military men are occasionally confined to eating only them for months at a time, they are less fond. Functionally what this boils down to is that I am a highly trained Sous-vide chef and I did not even know it.

Oh but it is precision temperature for optimal blah blah blah.
Let us cut the crap. It is a Ziploc bag in a counter-top jacuzzi. For the restaurant this is a cheap way to make entrees in advance then heat and serve with a minimal of cost and fuss, for the average home-owner it is a slow-cooker and a tap (Vacuum-seal not included). If anyone was planning on buying one, I would appreciate a cut of the $500 you save. They even have a break-down of the functions/advantages of the Sous-vide against a slow-cooker and an immersion circulator, but despite the high number of "yes" labels, they could not bring themselves to claim the cooker or circulator did not do these things, and so exchanged the expected "no" for a simple " - ", which to me represents a small, quiet, face trying very hard to be innocuous while implying "no" as heavily as possible.

Now, if they has marketed this as a $500 hot-tub, we could talk...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Woo Hoo! And she's back!
lol and lol, mapa