ES Op Ed: Alton vs. Fungi
Editors Note: I never, ever cooked anything during college, well, except egg sandwiches. Meaning, I never discussed anything besides cafeteria food, beer and what funky concoction the Tennis House would push on us during my four years at university. Anyway, it wasn’t until recently when I was chatting with my newly-engaged college friend that I realized our love of food and cooking (and Jacques Pepin.) Here is BK and his rant on an ES fav – Alton Brown.
I am not a fan of Alton Brown. He bothers me on many levels. My complaints range from his philosophy on cooking, to his incredibly corny sense of humor, and on many points in between.
One of the aspects of his show which bothers me the most is the specious nature of the food trivia bits displayed before every commercial. When he is not completely wrong, he is reinforcing quaint myths that are usually based on some stereotype. Now, I am not accusing Alton Brown of being prejudice or anything of that nature. I am only suggesting that a man who seems to enjoy an anal retentive image should pay closer attention to detail when displaying purported facts.
A few nights ago I begrudgingly watched Good Eats when I was treated to a comical instance of what I have described above. I decided to watch for a little while because the show was dedicated to mushrooms. Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods. They are versatile, fun to cook with and even more fun to go hunting for in the wild. They also can make an average jam band concert seem epic!
Alton stated that Russians have the word “raszh” to describe when someone is crazy for mushrooms. Then, with the sense of humor of a sixth grader, he made a pun about Lenin having a bad raszh.
There is no doubt that Russians are mushroom crazy. If you have ever read any Nabakov, Tolstoy, Aksakov or Soloukhin, you will know that mushrooms hold a place in Russian folklore akin to potatoes in Ireland. Children learn through poems and songs at the youngest of ages how to determine which fungi are good for you and which are not. But every Russian also knows that even the most experienced of mushroom hunters can make a mistake now and then. Hence the term raszh. A slightly different mushroom crazy than Alton had in mind.