Monday, March 12, 2007
Jacques Pepin: National Treasure
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I have officially named another person a "national treasure." Long-suffering readers may recall that sometime in 2005 I anointed Jon Stewart my first official NT. I haven't done it since because, as Elaine from Seinfeld would say, you gotta be "spongeworthy" to get the title.
So how bizarre is it that I would trot out the NT title for none other than a French transplant living in Connecticut?
Because, friends, Jacques has accomplished for me what no other person on earth could have done: he has made me interested in cooking. I don't want to give the impression that I never enjoyed cooking or that I now get massive psychic joy from doing it. The truth is rather more mundane, and yet in its mundanity, quite extraordinary: he has made it easy to prepare good, high-quality meals without having to know anything really about cooking. This has made it possible for me (and perhaps you?) to actually make decent, quick meals with nothing more than my basic skills and his fabulous book called, "Fast Food My Way."
First, the shoutout has to go to Sweet D and Papa Z for the book-giving itself. And then all the props have to go to Sweet Jacques for making it possible for me, Ms. Lasagna Or Cereal For Dinner, to make the following (and most importantly, to have them taste really rather good if I may say so myself):
-30 minute cassoulet
-cannellini and chorizo soup
Every dish is designed to be made when you get home from work, in about a half an hour. Most helpful is his advice to have the following things always on hand: sundried tomatoes, black olives, green olives, capers, anchovies, salsa, canned peaches, balsamic vinegar and pesto. I went to Trader Joes, stocked up on jars of the stuff, and every single night I am able to make an actual "from-scratch" meal (using cans and jars) that tastes like I am a freakin' culinary rock star. Not to mention the money I am not spending on take-out, the fat and calories of same that I'm not eating, and the total thrill of actually cooking something that I never imagined I'd ever be able to produce, seeing as how I don't care enough about cooking to actually learn how to do it properly.
So. The Second National Treasure of SSHaggis is Jacques Pepin. Mostly for this book, partly for his shows that I used to watch pre-child wherein he'd usually be cooking something for "Tonton Claude" or "Tonton Richard." (We never met Tonton Claude, in the same way we never met Vera, Norm's wife on Cheers, but his psychic presence always moved the narrative forward regardless), and partly for making it so easy for a culinary slacker like me to look like I have a shred of a clue about cooking.
Merci et Felicitations, M. Pepin!