Why I Will Never Have a Show on the Food Network

Wonderfully awesome and delightfully hilarious mentor, teacher, writer and fashionista, Stephanie Hammer had encouraged me to do a series of webposts based on baking and literary theory. The whole backstory is that whenever I’m depressed, I bake. I came up with wonderful things during my first year of my PhD program, because frankly–literary theory is depressing.

I made lavender cream cupcakes with reading Kant. Rosewater cookies with the Russian Formalists. Flan with Lacan. Basically, it would have been an enjoyable little webseries, seeing as how the baked goods rarely matched up with what I was reading.  In fact, I was going to name it either “The Grad Student Gourmet” or “Flan with Lacan.”

But that’s where my cooking prowess ends. I approach baking like a chemist. Perhaps it’s because of my scientific training, but I am precise with baking because–you have to be. With cooking…

I’ve cooked for my friends and people I’ve dated. They say I’m a good cook, especially the ones who have no idea how to cook. Perhaps that’s why they say I’m a good cook–because they have no clue about how bad a cook I am.

My knife cuts are sloppy. If the health inspector came in, I’d be handcuffed and led away. Basically, it’s a good sign that I haven’t given any of the people I’ve fed food poisoning. If I were the “Grad Student Gourmet” then I would be making cheap, filling moderately healthy meals and give some sort of background on the food–so a combination of Alton Brown and Melissa D’Arabian.

But they wouldn’t taste good. When I am cooking for myself, I don’t care because I have a horrible taste level. I just made a sandwich that was a sunnyside up egg, capers and cream cheese on wheat. Not that appetizing sounding, huh?

But hey, I haven’t scared away my friends. Apparently I know how to cook fish really well. I still overcook my beef and the use of a crock pot has helped me make some awesome chilis and stews. But my family, they refuse to try my cooking–there’s a strong tradition of Filipino cooking from both sides of the family. I have yet to master Filipino food. I can fake Mexican. Fake Italian. Pull off Chinese. But the food of my people?

I’d rather have mom and dad do it. Too bad in the Midwest there aren’t many Filipino restaurants. Because I would maim for some pancit right now or lomi. Hmm. Maybe Milwaukee doesn’t need another vegan bakery, but maybe an authentic Filipino restaurant.

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