Upon meeting me, you would have absolutely no idea that I was a fan of culinary media. Recently overweight with a strict diet of lots and lots of alcohol and Lean Cuisine, the extent of my cooking expertise maxes out somewhere around boiling instant noodles in a pot with seasoning and baking a potato. And yet, there is something I find infinitely soothing about keeping up with internet-based cooking series and podcasts. In many ways it fills me with hope, promising me that there’s something more out there for when life isn’t so depressive and oppressive as it is now. That sounds like a cheeky hyperbole, but it’s resolutely accurate. Actually taking the time to appreciate the ingredients that go into what we consume? A passionate love for supporting local, organic, fresh, and delicious sustenance? A culture and encyclopedic take on what I shove into my face when inebriated? I could only be so lucky, and as such, the BON APPÉTIT FOODCAST has proven to be a bastion in the storm as of late.
To be clear, the right word to describe it is “nerdy.” Not in the sense that it has anything to do with typical nerd fodder such as sci-fi, tech, or comic books, but rather in the sense that these are food nerds through and through. Prepare to jump from the zero of, “Huh, Carl’s Jr. or Flame Broiler tonight? (always Flame Broiler)” to the 100 of, “What is the best way to prepare the rare meat cut of lamb rib?” Cooking techniques, obscure and pricey vegetables, endless names of East Asian sauces without the explanatory comma necessitated: this is what I both fear and crave. In a comparison I’m sure Adam Rapoport and company never envisioned, I think there’s a comparison to be drawn between the BON APPÉTIT FOODCAST and Anthony Fantano’s TheNeedleDrop channel. In the grand scheme of things, almost nobody actually relates to their passions on a day-to-day basis. Sure, everyone likes food, but I don’t return from a long day of hauling speaker systems in a warehouse to properly boil and dress Chesapeake blue crab, much like how most people don’t wake up looking for a blazing hot take on Lil Uzi Vert’s LUV IS RAGE 2. I am actually a counterpoint to the latter, but my point stands that these kind of passionate niche media outlets can still gain an audience through a warm, charismatic, and charming presentation. Why, since listening to the recent “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” episode, I even took time out of my Wednesday night to properly incorporate the listed four into a batch of sweet potato tacos I made. You see, people can change!
But truly, what got me into the podcast and all that you really need is the Thanksgiving episode where Alton Brown talks about cooking turkey for half an hour. I don’t know exactly how else to interest you in the episode . . . it’s Alton Brown talking about cooking turkey for half an hour! This is the perfect introduction to the podcast, because it shows its exact avenue of appeal: inside baseball to a pretty heavy degree, but so appealing in its breadth of knowledge that it’ll get the mouth watering and the heart aching for a recreated experience. I wish I loved anything on God’s Green Earth as much as Alton Brown loves turkey, but you bet your sweet bippy I’m now more invested in the meat outside of a scant week of the year. Also, my God, just listen to the part of the show where Alton Brown keeps saying “cream” in a soft voice. Anyone else got a halfie going on?
If I had one complaint to make, it’s that the BON APPÉTIT FOODCAST doesn’t readily “dumb itself down,” as far as I can tell. There’s no overt attempt to create episodes geared around what the layman has in their kitchen, but on the other hand, that might kind of be the point. In a way, the separation from everyday practicality increases its entertainment value, as we can install a slight sense of distance that allows us to more fully engage with the deep passion these people have about their preferred art form and the lovely language with which they talk about it. You’ll get hungry, you’ll want to hear how the other side eats, and you might even incorporate a few general ideas or techniques into your own life. What more can you ask for?