What is the most chilling and disturbing command in the world?
I could entertain arguments for "Duck and cover!" "Bend and spread 'em" is no joke, and, personally, I could complete several more lifetimes very happily if I never again have to hear a Rabbi saying "And do you, Chana Ruchl bat Esau,take this man...?" Which is actually a question rather than a command, but it's still terrifying.
But the very, very worst? "I'd like you all to form into groups."
I am not a natural coagulant. There may be people who adore essaying a lab project, character-building exercise or deep-cover mission with others around to help, support, and maybe crack a joke every now and again. I personally hate this.
I always hated "forming into a group" (what am I? an amoeba?). Except in the very rare cases that La Skolnique and I were in the same class (English? Gym?), I never had a handy friend with whom to form a group. I'm just, I don't know, kind of a loner, okay? I mean why does this matter to you? Shut up! Leave me alone!
Yes, Prof, I'm the one without a partner. Oh good. The Yugoslavian exchange student needs a partner too, does he? Has he discovered American toothpaste yet? How about adverbs? Oh. Great.
I could not help but think of these themes whilst watching TNFNS, episode 2. Because, like it wasn't bad enough to be woken up at the crack of dawn, or actually way before that, by "Muscly Bob" Irvine, the now-disgraced "Dinner:Impossible" chef, the nine remaining finalists had to tumble out of their beds and, you guessed it, form into groups.
I was sort of Lisa-centered; La Garza does attract attention, and most of this week's TNFNS chatter had been about her. But, after I had had my little giggle about poor young Shane being trapped between Lisa and the equally-reviled Nipa, I had to pay attention to th action.
Each three-person team had to go to a specific bakery (Amy's Bakery, one of NYC's best), then a cheese shop, then a butchers', and answer one food trivia question. If the team answered correctly, they picked one of three breads, cheeses, and meats. If they answered incorrectly, one team member had to do a prep assignment for the store, which would hold the whole team up as they were whizzing around the shops competitively.
That was only part of the challenge. Once the teams had their supplies, they were all taken to East Hutzenflutz, New Jersey, and set on a tourist rail line to produce a three-dish mini-brunch and serve it to the judges (Bob, Lisa, Bobby and Bob) .
This, to me, is team madness. It's worse than "grab the random dude on either side of you and rely upon them for the project which will count for 50% of your grade." And the finalists didn' seem to like it much either, as the irritation, annoyance, and homicidal rage grew apace.
If Kevin had blockaded me on olive oil, as he did to his teammates...if I had had to work with Nipa and her "Indian food, first time, every time" attitude...(watch, I bet she's really from INDIAna, and the whole thing has been a terrible mistake)...well, I'd be flinging body parts across Central Jersey, if that's where the benighted Ship of Fools was running, and they wouldn't catch me later for Inquisition Time, at that.
It was all very difficult to watch, but I do have to say here and now that Lisa was helpful, charming, pleasant and QUIET almost throughout this ep, giving no reason to hate her save for her Liza Minelli head wrap, and hey, if she wants to get retro, who am I to say? Still didn't see anything thrilling in her cooking style, still thought I felt her digging the knife into her fellow-contestants whenever possible, but nothing egregious. And honestly, she didn't look so good straight out of bed, but she did get dressed in slightly under the four and a half hours it apparently took Nipa to join the team and start on the shopping.
All of the food looked rather putrid, save for the steak. Lisa the Judge amused me by saying ewwww, I got some raw egg in my mouth! Uh, is this the attitude we expect from a high-level executive at the Food Network? Eat any Steak Tartare or Salade Frisee or any of the currently fashionable poached-egg dishes around town, Lisa?
On the other hand, even I can't figure out how Adam screwed up the eggs. Were it me, I would have boiled them for eight minutes, which makes a hen's egg tender but not runny, then iced them down and cracked the shells and called them Oefs Mollets, which are classy and never disgusting. It was not, of course, me.
Oh, how many of us wanted to see Nipa leave town. Oh, how our hearts were gladdened when she left the room! And what a letdown when the judges took her back! By the way, those moments when all the judges close in and start purring, "Do you really want to be here? Why are you crying?" have all the charm of recess at the schoolyard, and the entire third grade lining up to ask you why your mother dresses you funny. Is this really going to make anyone a better chef or human being?
I suppose that last question sums up the bottom line for me. Okay, so we found out that Kevin is a lousy team player, a bad cook and not really even charming. Okay, so he got the boot. (By the way, pal: romantic food is pizza at 2 in the morning because you're sooo tired and hungry and you're sooooo going to Do It three more times before dawn.) Did this challenge really have anything to do with the requirements of a Food Network Star? Does Morimoto really know what "Anneto" is? Did Rachel Ray get where she is because she works and plays well with others? Does anyone except the lamented Irvine ever have to cook anything on a moving train? And, although doubtless Alton knows how to poach eggs for 30, is that really what makes him a star?