I don’t know

It’s Sunday evening, the philosophe and friend (let’s call him Cash) are watching soccer, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to make of a recent remark by Glen the sailor, who is also our chef tonight (there is a persimmon soup and a brandade lasagne – topped with pine nuts and emmenthaler cheese – on the menu, and I bet no one else is having that tonight!).

Glen the sailor travels a lot (a LOT: he is the source of my Chinese lemons), and because of that, his life is generally free of that one thing that many of us cannot imagine living without: the moving picture (that includes television and cinema). Alas, he’s been with us for two weeks now, and we’ve already managed to change all that. Here comes a confession: I’ve gotten Glen hooked on Nip/Tuck and West Wing. (He would never admit to the addiction, and certainly not to the Nip/Tuck association, but I have seen it in action, and besides, this is a secure space where secrets are safe).

After one of the first bouts of box-watching, I found Glen standing in the kitchen with a puzzled look on his face. He explained that the thing about mindless TV series is that they “stick” – much to his displeasure, he found himself continuing to think about what he had seen long after the fact. This was more evil, he claimed, than Food TV, which he can immerse himself in and then forget about as soon as he walks away. For that reason he much prefers Food TV.

I think I am the exact opposite: I watch the schlock (an unecessarily unkind way to describe both West Wing and Nip/Tuck, I know), and am there for the duration, but typically the next day I can’t remember half the details that made up the narrative and kept me watching. On the other hand, if I watch Food TV that has any merit (and lets not pretend that there isn’t a lot of schlock there too), what I have seen will typically make it’s way onto a shopping list, and from there to an experiment in the kitchen, if not a chapter in the thesis.

If I had to choose, I would also say I prefer watching Food TV, for the simple reason that there is greater potential of it not being wasted time. The reason I love West Wng and Nip/Tuck is because they perform the function of wasting my time perfectly, with no strings attached.

Postscript: Monday morning:

I still don’t know what to make of Glen’s conundrum, and I can only hope that I haven’t caused irrevocable damage; last night after dinner we saw him engage in his first round of solo watching – no more excuses that he was watching because it “was there”, this time he pushed the play button himself. Let’s hope the dramas of the West Wing won’t invade his Monday too forcefully.

In the meantime, I’m glad to report that his cooking skills haven’t been compromised in the slightest. The brandade lasagne was exquisite – delicately fishy and rich, but nowhere near cloying (as some lasagne can be). The persimmon “soup” became dessert because of some very strange property of this fruit: once he pureed it, it became more or less solid, as if full of gelatine (?). With the addition of a little booze, then, it became a brandy-persimmon-mint jelly, which was rather wierd in the mouth, but in fact quite delicious and refreshing in the way of a palate-cleansing sorbet. We will let him cook again.

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