Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Emeril Lagasse, Not So Smart
Now, granted, I can't expect everyone in the world to be an authenticity expert when it comes to a cuisine that's a little esoteric and only recently making its way into the culinary mainstream. But, if you're going to have an episode on your hugely popular one-hour show where you authoritatively instruct America on the finer points of Persian cuisine, could you at least feature Persian cuisine?
You'd think that at the very least, the resident expert, 'Minoo', would quit clucking about how perfect everything was, and clue him in on the fact that hummus, felafel, and tahini Are Not Persian Foods. Nope. Not at all. None of them. Maybe if Emeril read his own blog, he'd know about Najmieh Batmanglij's New Food of Life, and maybe, just maybe, he'd consider doing some research before the show, pick up the book, and see that none of those items are in there. Hummus ma lahma? Those aren't even Persian words. They're Arabic! Don't know the difference? Right. Great.
Now, there are as many variations on Persian rice dishes as there are Iranian mothers, so I won't comment on the particular Persian rice recipe he made (Yes, they did manage to wedge in one Persian dish between all the felafel and lahma (and speaking of lahma, really, check this out)), but in the world of Persian rice, one thing is fundamental: respect the grains. You want long, distinct grains of Basmati rice -- no extra starch, no sticky, no mush. I could just sense the old mamanjans cringing as he squashed down his sloppy, waterlogged, parboiled rice with a big heavy spoon. He just seems bumbling: glopping enough saffron on his chicken to spice the whole henhouse, smushing rice back into the pot with a heavy oafy hand. Come on, Emeril, we know you're paid handsomely. And for the love of tahdig, you're a well educated, and well-reputed, chef. Please, just try a little bit. Just a little. Please.
End of rant; thank you for listening.
(And, now that I'm done whining, I will say, the bits of traditional Persian music performance they played at the end of the show were lovely, and I was pretty tickled to see that kind of footage on national television. But still.)
[Thanks to Tostie14 for the image of our hefty hero.]