Back in the day when I had cable, I used to watch a lot of Food Network. * There was -- and likely still is -- a competitive cooking show called Chopped that ... well. I was going to say I enjoyed it, but my relationship with this program was more complicated than that.
You may be wondering to yourself, how WEIRD is it inside Yellie's head that she would develop a complicated relationship with a tv show? Oh, you. The answer, is of course, that it's deeply weird in here, and this is but one instance of the weirdness.
I have no pride, dignity, or shame. I've mentioned this multiple times. However, I have a VERY low embarrassment threshold for other people. Because of this, I do not watch competition shows. ** I can't. I get MUCH too anxious on behalf of the people who are competing, especially if they are being actively mocked or put down. I can't take it. It makes me feel sick.
If you've never seen Chopped, here's how it works: four people who are chef-types are presented with picnic baskets of mystery ingredients and forced to make a course out of those ingredients within a specified time frame. After each course, their offerings are judged and eliminated.
No big, right?
Riiiiiiight. You'd think so. Except for the fact that the baskets are sometimes diabolical. Sometimes, the contestants hear the fabulously terrifying Ted Allen say "Contestants! Make an appetizer of Bubble Gum! Motor oil! This poisonous thing I found in my shoe! And ... LETTUCE!" and then they have to do it.
Sometimes, the contestants -- who are FOOD PEOPLE -- don't even know what some of the ingredients ARE.
When this show first aired, I couldn't watch more than ten minutes of it at a time. I couldn't take the stress. It would literally cause me to have a panic attack. But then my mom fell in love with it, so I tried to watch it with her.
And I started to love it.
The stress of the show was not lessened in any way. Instead, I started seeing the show as a metaphor for LIFE.
Here's a basket. It's full of some shit. Some of it is awesome and you'll know EXACTLY what to do. Some of it is complete rubbish and you'll have to figure it out. And some of it? Totally unrecognizable. Oh well. You'll have to learn to deal with it.
All of the people you know? They're also in this kitchen, with their own baskets. They'll need to figure their stuff out. Some of the shit in their baskets is just like yours. Some is different.
Some of them will give up. They will decide it's too hard and walk out of your kitchen. You should probably wish them all of the best and keep sorting through your basket.
Some of them will be super friendly. They'll let you use the ice cream machine for some of your ingredients. They'll pass you a pan if you need one.
Some of them will try to stab you in the back. They'll want to steal the good stuff out of your basket or sully it or give you bad information about what to do with it.
Some people, as I said, will leave voluntarily. And some will need to be chopped. You'll need to have to ask them to go as you continue to cook through your basket.
Yes, it's stressful sometimes. But it's also fast paced and exhilarating and glorious and a constant dance of movement and choices and emotion.
If I'm going to bother to make a lifestyle change, it should be a real one. Not just about diet and exercise but also about globally healthy living -- it should be about choosing asparagus over onion rings (most of the time) but it should also be about choosing joy and support over sorrow and doubt. It should be about choosing the positive over the negative.
It should be about deciding who gets to stay and who gets chopped.
And then it should be about focusing on the next thing I find in my basket.
*I question this habit now. I mean, I have acknowledged food issues that make watching hours of television dedicated to food-centric programming problematic. But I digress.
** Except The Sing Off. Because Holy Awesome Batman.