On a weekly basis, my newspaper’s Section C is devoted to food.
As am I, on a daily basis.
I enjoy looking at my newspaper’s color photos of various dishes, and imagining these goodies magically transitioning from page to plate.
I also enjoy chortling over the occasional misnomers, like the headline above.
“A little work”?
Let’s see what “a little work” looks like.
I suspect there’s going to be a big difference between what the recipe author calls “a little work…”
And what I call “a little work.”
Here comes the Spicy Chicken Parm, with this caveat…
“Parm” stands for either:
- Parmesan cheese
- Persistent AntiRadiation Missile (pictured)
How about we all agree that in this instance, we’ll go with #1?
Good. Here’s the image:
The article starts with an almost-500-word essay – including four bulleted items – about why we should try this recipe, and includes words like “easy” and “friendly.”
My idea of “easy” is unscrewing a wine bottle cap.
My idea of “friendly” is drinking the wine.
So that’s the why.
Now comes the what – the recipe – and this required a 103-word introduction that reiterated the why, and noted “this recipe can be easily scaled up to feed a crowd.”
My idea of feeding a “crowd” is unscrewing several wine bottle caps.
The recipe introduction is followed by the list of ingredients.
There are 21 of them.
Twenty-one ingredients in this “easy” and “friendly” recipe.
I don’t have 21 ingredients in my entire kitchen, unless you count individual packets of sweet-sour sauce.
Now comes the how – how to make Spicy Chicken Parm.
Another 500 words. After this you can honestly say, “I’ve spent the day reading!”
The how is divided as follows:
For the Chicken
For the Sauce
For the Assembly
For crying out loud!
But before we can start “For the Chicken” et cetera, I see that the author snuck a bunch of verbs into the ingredients list that must come first.
That can of tomatoes? They have to be “coarsely crushed by hand.” The pepper has to be “freshly ground,” the egg has to be “beaten,” and the basil leaves have to be “torn.” And not just torn, but “torn into small pieces.”
This is work before you start the work.
The how is awash with verbs, all denoting work – I counted eight just in the first paragraph: cut, separate, trim, discard, pound, repeat, pat, and season.
Hey – if I’d wanted a workout, I’d have gone to the gym.
Not that I’ve ever wanted a workout.
The how also that assumes that your kitchen is as well-stocked with cooking accoutrements as a stage set on a food competition show, starting with a “meat tenderizer.”
Is this a meat tenderizer?
I use this thing only for breaking up the ice in my freezer.
The accoutrements list continues: A food processor. Plastic wrap. A pepper grinder. An instant-read thermometer. A baking sheet. A large nonstick skillet. A wide spatula.
What if my only large skillet is sticky? And my only spatula is narrow?
Sure, this Spicy Chicken Parm looks good.
But to sum it up, if I were to make this Spicy Chicken Parm, for just the prep work I’m figuring three days:
Day 1: Read entire article. Take a nap.
Day 2: Shop for all 21 ingredients. Take a nap.
Day 3: Shop for the kitchen accoutrements I’ll need, which is all of them. Take a nap.
All this, for a Chicken Parm recipe the author described as “a little work”?
This is “a little work”: