Kitchen Guy: Après Moi le Déluge

By Beacon Staff

I get the impression that the French don’t like being outdone by anyone, especially the English and Americans. But that rule of thumb now appears to apply to Italians as well.

In my last column, I wrote about the “scandalous” way I used rotini instead of spaghetti in making a pasta frittata. I got all sorts of e-mail originating in Italy that took me to task for – to their way of thinking – destroying a traditional Italian dish. Apparently, every single one of the hundreds of types of pasta has a specific use.

Not to be outdone by their neighbors to the south, the French have begun to weigh in. It seems that in France it’s okay to use whatever pasta you have to make a frittata. BUT…

…if you decide to make an omelet, there had better not be one eensy-weensy speck of evidence that the eggs began to brown. I consider myself warned.

And then I got scolded for my crepe-making.

If you watch one of my videos, YouTube gives you links to others that I’ve posted, so I guess my French viewers searched for things that looked or sounded like anything that vaguely might be French.

So they found my crepes. And soups. And egg dishes. And custards.

Wait a second. Do you have any idea how many tens of thousands of cooking videos there are on YouTube? I’m obviously wondering if other video cooks are getting the volume (both quantity and tone) of mail I am. You know, I’ve always welcomed constructive criticism. I believe it’s one important way to grow and learn new things. But the anonymity of the Internet and e-mail somehow empowers people to say some pretty nasty things that you know they would never say to you face-to-face.

On the other hand …

This is a so much more fun than ham radio! When I was a kid I lusted after a ham radio license and went to the trouble of learning Morse Code and lots of other electrical nonsense that didn’t even relate to what the hobby was about. The Federal Communications Commission decided we should know about tubes and connectors and circuits and antennas. Blah blah blah.

All I wanted to do was find new friends in other parts of the world. The thought of being able to sit in my bedroom with a transmitter, receiver, microphone and headphones, and broadcast the catch all, “CQ – CQ – CQ,” searching for anyone anywhere who could pick up my signal was so alluring.

As with so many other pursuits in my teenage years, however, that one quickly went by the wayside after I discovered girls.

Now after all these years, I am kind of realizing my dream because of the Internet and YouTube. It’s a kind of ham radio for the 21st century. (Not really, but you catch my drift.)

For the most part, my fellow Americans are much kinder and even respectful when they send an e-mail. So I wonder if our country’s tarnished image abroad gives my correspondents in other countries a sense of license to be over-the-top in their criticism.

I should tell you that it’s not all negative. I’ve actually received some very nice messages and new subscribers to my weekly e-mail newsletter. I’m quite proud of my newfound worldwide audience.

But I must tell you that when you’ve been cussed out in Italian one week and French the next, it could give you a Louis XV complex, hence the title of this week’s column.

I wonder whose national cuisine I’ll be offending next.