Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Cooking Cult: Hell, No! I Won't Go!

This is a repost of a ranty old myspace blog. Enjoy!
It isn't true that I can't cook. But there is nothing that I hate more. The sight of raw meat, the shopping involved, the time it takes--I hate every bit of it. But I can cook. My very traditional mother made sure of that. She is waiting for the moment that my husband decides he is going to leave me because I won't cook. Or because I didn't change my name when we got married. Or because I drink too much Diet Coke. Or.....

As you might guess, I only identify the kitchen as the room that one walks through to get to the bathroom. Mr. Simone B does all the cooking, and registered for everything when we got married. When he travels, which he does often, my children fly into a panic and anticipate starvation. Two large pizzas from Pino's for all three meals of the day is my answer to their fears. And I, myself, enjoy eating Rice Chex for dinner. Or a Kit Kat.

So, when I was invited to a Pampered Chef party, you would think I would run screaming. And maybe I should have. Being surrounded by kitchen utensils and storage containers is, in general, enough to make me ill. That's why I walk through the kitchen quickly, averting my eyes from the counters, when I need to go to the bathroom. But the BFF gave the little soiree, and she is a great cook, so I went. I brought my friend Laura Zigman, published author, brant writer and my current girl-crush, for company. And hilarity ensued. But more on that later.

What is Pampered Chef, you ask? Why, you don't know? Shame on you, blog readers, for not being familiar with this particularly insidious cult. How will you protect yourself from the Chef's Tools and Silicone Crown Cake Pan? It is the cookware equivalent of Mary Kay, without the blue eye shadow. The woman who did our particular show has her shtick down to a science, including the whole history of her abduction and consequent assimilation into the Pampered Chef "family". Just think how much bigger the Manson Family would have been had he offered stoneware baking dishes.

Laura came to spare me the pain of the glassy eyed kitchenistas that always come to these shows. But she was immediately made to wear a name tag with a V on it, for Virgin. Virgin to the Pampered Chef. Why she didn't flee then, knowing that virgins are generally sacrificed, I'm not sure. Maybe because there were a few other virgins to choose from. My name tag had "ice cream scoop" on it, the only thing I bought at BFF's last show that didn't break and was still in the drawer at home. I'm told. And the Blessed Virgin Laura, poor dear, had to listen to my profane comments about how many of the utensils looked like sex toys. A girl has to entertain herself , after all. 

Round and round the circle of ladies went the bowls of ingredients to make fresh salsa (ladies, use those kitchen choppers! you'll wonder how you ever made salad without them!), the chocolate cake in the Batter Bowl-Classic that ended up sticking to the non-stick pan, (painfully funny to watch the horror), the almond crusted brie that demonstrated the mini-nut chopper. One snarky woman next to me muttered "So handy, you could use it while driving." I love nothing more than snark. I didn't touch a single one of these ingredient bowls, for fear of cooking cooties. But I did find myself sucked in, highlighting the smooth-edge can opener, the large and small micro-cookers, and a variety of other things. Mob mentality is very powerful. I wisely called Mr. Simone B before writing any check, who limited my purchase to a cutting board and bamboo tongs for the kids to use to remove frozen waffles from the toaster oven. I always thought the burnt fingers were part of the charm of frozen waffles. And if you burn them enough, you eventually don't feel it anymore. 

Now, I don't mean to imply that it wasn't fun. It was great fun. Watching these suburban ladies gushingly extoll the virtues of their stoneware is worth all the fresh salsa in the world. I love watching people search the catalogue for the one thing they haven't purchased yet. But I feel no shame, no matter how hard my mother has worked at it, for not being turned on by kitchenware. And these little parties exploit the elements of shame and guilt, to make people feel bad for buying nuts pre-chopped or never using nuts in a recipe because it is too much work. But if people really want to feel shame and guilt, they can come to MY next party. Frozen drinks and sex toys, ladies?

Here is a link to Laura's brant/blog:

I know she is planning to talk about her side of this experience. If it's not there yet, read about her love for Hugh Jackman, who starred in the movie of her novel.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, wish I could have attended with you!

    When my wife goes to these parties, she always ends up coming home with some cool, but easily broken utensil that ends up in the drawer of "unwanted purchases." The same drawer that gets emptied out each year for our annual yard sale.

    So I'm encouraging her to attend a different type of party. The kind you mention. Maybe you gals can go together?!!

    "ONE of THE GUYS"