ABC’s new cooking competition “The Taste” promises—repeatedly, it must be noted—to be a cooking competition “unlike any you’ve ever seen.” This is a completely accurate description—but only if you’ve never seen a food-based show before. For the rest of us, it’s a totally generic, frustratingly unsatisfying taster menu of refried ideas.
The Internet can be both incredibly helpful and affirming: a vast repository of all the world's knowledge; a great town hall where minds can meet across cultures and countries and share their ideas and insights; a truly global community. But anyone who has spent more than an hour online knows that it can also be a seedy freak show and a sometimes disturbing glimpse into how truly pathetic so many of us humans really are.
Like every other aspect of the web, online cooking videos land all over that spectrum. Now, any other day I might choose to point you to the best that are available, but because it’s Monday morning, I’m in the mood for a train wreck. So, let me present to you the worst cooking videos on the Internet as judged by a panel of one expert (me). Oh, sure, there may be grosser or more depraved ones out there, but as far as I'm concerned, these three are unmatched in terms of reducing the human condition to its most piteous.
3. Steven Reed's Chili Cheese Dip
Apparently, somebody at Weber State University thought that the student body there could benefit from a how-to series on cooking simple, economical meals. That doesn’t seem like a bad idea until you see the execution. This is "cooking" at its most basic: two things are (barely) mixed together and then heated. But come on, a jar of processed cheese and a can of chili?
I don't know what worries me more, that a person in a decision-making position at Weber State thought that their students could use instructions on opening cans and then microwaving the contents, or that those students might actually need those instructions.
Or maybe the fact that the laconic, shuffling host is a convicted sex offender.
2. Popcorn Cereal
This one is slightly less sad than Reed's video, if only because this guy actually manages to successfully cook popcorn and he doesn't even need a microwave to do it. That's not much of an achievement, though, and in the end this is still a video by a dude who thinks that pouring tap water into a bowl of popcorn counts as some kind of recipe.
1. Hot Dogs and Peaches
Ugh. This one is a straight-up nightmare. Not a scary monster chasing you through endless hallways sort of nightmare, but the kind where unpleasant and dangerous things are happening and nothing makes sense. Random fires break out. There's a toilet in the kitchen. A mumbling man decides that hot dogs blended with peaches would make a good drink.
I hold out hope that some aspects of this video are a joke (seriously, hot dogs and peaches?), But even if the vlogger is pulling our leg a little bit, that doesn't change the fact that this fetid hellhole is his kitchen. Piles of garbage on the floor, the stove and sink filled with filthy dishes and random appliances, that toilet; whether or not the “cooking” is a prank, the (miserable, squalid) joke is still on him.
So, those are my nominees for the worst cooking on the web. But if there is one golden rule about awful things on the Internet, it is that there is always more, and it is always worse. Feel free to share your own nominees, barring any pornographic cooking videos, which almost certainly exist, but which I’d very much like to continue being ignorant of.
While I was doing some research for an article about the ABQ BioPark's third annual Creeping, Crawling Cuisine dinner, I found myself in some strange corners of the Internet. Happily, I also discovered the, Girl Meets Bug blog, which is written by one Daniella Martin, a woman who is on a personal crusade to make insect eating hip. Or at least, not reviled.
Her blog covers all manner of related topics, from insectivorous recipes, to cultural critique, to suspenseful descriptions of her pet whip scorpion stalking and eating a grasshopper. Her writing is light and humorous and, as her (unfortunately short-lived) video cooking show proves, she's got a lot of charisma. The insect eating lifestyle couldn't ask for a better ambassador.
It must be hard filling 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a particular type of programming. Which is probably why Syfy Channel hardly has any science fiction on it anymore. And when you try your damnedest to stick to a limited topic, you’re bound to come up with some pretty odd iterations on the theme. Which is why, I suspect, “Sweet Genius” exists on the Food Network.
I’ve been reading a lot of food books by and about chefs lately, and in doing so, found a few titles that have been referenced repeatedly. This particular trio of tomes helps the cook understand flavors, why food behaves the way it does, the reason behind recipes and how to make dishes your own. The information in these books is useful for beginners and professional cooks alike. It’s about understanding the logic of recipes in general and why they work—or don’t. Fair warning with McGee: You may become an unending source of food trivia.
If you’re shopping for a serious foodie, you’ve got to start thinking like a chef. Which means you’ll need to head straight over to National Restaurant Supply. Whether you’re looking for the “big gift” for someone special or an assortment of stocking stuffers, this store has it.
Special series: The Alibi’s resident food columnist Ari LeVaux reports from Italy for a few issues. Buon appetito!