During December I was suffering from yet another depressive episode. What better way to treat depression than to self-medicate? My drug of choice for December was to watch the television. TV has an amazing ability to put one into a fugue like state, thus allowing a slight decrease in anxiety.
Much of the tv I watched was on a channel called the Food Network–two drugs in one, food and tv! Two shows I became addicted to were, Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten (all my friends are gay–in my my best Edina Monsoon voice) and Chopped. Chopped is strangely annoying and compelling. The often blatant misogyny of the usually all male judges causes me to scream at the tv, as does the absolutely bizarre concept of the show. Contestants receive a mystery basket of “foods” that they have to prepare to satisfy the judges (chefs) in a limited time frame.
Here is where it gets really bizarre. An example of the mystery basket of ingredients would be: Ketchup, Cat Urine, and Yellow Marshmallow Peeps. After 20 minutes alloted time to “transform” these ingredients into a culinary triumph the judges give feedback and then eliminate a contestant before the next round.
Judges feedback: this is where I have to laugh and what compels me to keep watching (probably diagnostic on my part). Exceedingly arrogant Chef Geoffrey Zakarian (the one with just a bit too much eye mascara) will usually give feedback along the lines of: “While you really made the Ketchup and Marshmallow Peeps come alive in this lovely red/yellow coulis, I’m not sure I’m getting the Cat Urine.” Then the equally arrogant and misogynistic Chef Scott Conant will counter with his feedback: “I’m getting too much Cat Urine in my dish–that is just not acceptable. And the Ketchup/Peeps coulis just doesn’t work for me.” The third judge, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli (one of the only female judges) will offer: “I feel like you really tried with this dish.”
While I continue not to be a fan of reality tv, I am compelled to continue to watch Chopped, despite the misogyny and awful display of white hetero privilege from most of the judges. The bizarre mystery baskets combined with the laughable and inconsistent feedback serve up a dish that helps to put my depression at bay.