Let me start this by apologizing in advance. (A phrase I’ve said to far too many women.)
This post may not be as funny as our standard fare. I’ll definitely be throwing in jests and jokes where and when I can, but I want to treat this topic with the gravitas I feel for it. But next week marks an important milestone in Kitchen Catastrophe’s lifeline, which I’ll be posting about on next Wednesday, and I wanted to talk about some things before we reached it. SO, without further ado, this is why we do what we do.
THE MISSION STATEMENT OF KITCHEN CATASTROPHE
Kitchen Catastrophe wants to keep cooking fun, and help you bring it to your home.
That’s a simple statement, but it carries a lot of meaning to me, because it has a lot of how I understand life built into it, and backing it up. So I wanted to take a couple (okay, several) hundred words, and bring you to where I’m at, to see this as I see it. It starts with three basic principles.
We could all use a little more fun
I am, among many things, a comedian. I make jokes, I tell funny stories, etc, etc.
Sometimes I do this not because I think a thing is truly funny, but because I want to steal its power for harm. Like…okay, this is going to be mildly uncomfortable for me, but if I want you to understand the truth, I need to be completely honest.
My first kiss was with a man. And I did not want it.
That SOUNDS like it has a horrible, uncomfortable story behind it. But, the follow statement is also true:
My first kiss was the result of bad luck in a stupid game, and that’s hilarious.
We all know which game you suck at, Jon.
The brief version of events: In 10th grade, I was at a friend’s house for a Halloween party. There were two attractive girls there, and about 6 guys. Driven by hormones, one guy suggested Spin the Bottle, and the others agreed. 3 to 1 odds aren’t bad, right? So, when it came my turn, I spun, and was, I believe, the first guy to actually land on one of the girls. Who then decided, rather than kiss me, she’d quit the game. (Which is, to a young man, a rather devastating blow to one’s self-esteem.) I had to spin again, and got one of the guys, and that’s how my first kiss went down.
Harmless, really, once you know the story and can see the humor of it. (Why the hell were we even playing?! How dumb can teenagers be?!) I used to tell that story as part of a stand-up routine. Because, to me, as long as I was laughing at it, it didn’t have the power to hurt me.
I COULD have taken her rejection, and viewed this as a story about how disgusting I am, how undesirable. But I don’t. That’s stupid. I KNOW I’m at least mildly desirable, given how many women I learn USED TO have crushes on me, because Past Jon is, and always will be, a dick to Present Jon. Which is why I must be a dick to Future Jon, to have my revenge.
So instead, I see it as a lesson in how people under pressure make bad calls, and how teenagers are dumb. And how, for some reason, women are ALWAYS more willing to cheat at party games. (That last one may just be confirmation bias, but I will drunkenly defend that claim with surprising vehemence if you bring it up. In my admittedly narrow experience, Women are WAY more likely to bail on drinking game rules the instant they become personally inconvenient.)
Oh god, my casual sexism summoned a Fedora. I TAKE IT BACK.
The important take-away, however, is that I’ve always felt that humor, and FUN, were stronger than the negative views. And that viewing the occasionally bleak or harsh facts of adulthood with humor is an important lesson.
Some people go into their kitchen, screw up a recipe, and decide “I can’t cook”, or just see all the wasted effort. I did it 5 years ago, laughed about it on Facebook, and now have a website where I do it repeatedly for people’s amusement.
Food = Community
I ALMOST minored in Philosophy in College. I took one wrong class, so I didn’t meet the requirements when I graduated; which occasionally makes me wonder if the error was of my own will, or divine predestination, because that’s the main use of a minor in Philosophy. But of the 15 philosophy classes I took, nothing has stuck with me so much as one point that came up in an upper level seminar class about Jewish philosophers. I can’t remember if it was Fackenheim or Rosenzweig, but one of them said something to the effect of: “You are not a true community, until you have eaten together. The breaking of bread is the true formation of the family.”
And I’ve seen it happen. You want your cast and crew to bond? Bring Pizza to a work party. The greatest cast bonding exercise I’ve ever had was when I made pancakes for the men of Much Ado About Nothing, and we rehearsed in different rooms of my apartment. (Which, being a collection of men essentially gathered for a simultaneous brunch and play rehearsal, may be the gayest thing I’ve ever done. And, need I remind you, my first kiss was a man.) Coming together and making a meal, or just eating a meal, is a sign of trust, and shared experience. It’s a holy thing. (To the Jews, it actually is. After the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Rabbis moved the complex prayers of the temple to the dining table. Their church can be, quite literally, just their dinner table.)
I’ve been in less impressive Churches.
But, by the same token, to paraphrase Nietzche (ah, Philosophy, you quote-vomiting dick), “I cannot believe in a God who does not dance.” Which, while interpretable in many ways, I have always associated with a simple idea: the holy need not always be clean, or unapproachable. Just because food is an important thing, a sacred bond, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world if you screw it up. Crepes Suzette, a go-to ‘fancy dessert’ for French restaurants, happened because a chef panicked while cooking for a king and his mistress. Supposedly potstickers exist because someone forgot to watch a pot while cooking for the emperor. Mistakes can make new things. They can make BETTER things. (I personally love goddamn pot stickers.)
Misery Loves Company
That’s a disingenuous way to phrase it, but it stands for the following idea: seeing me fail, and hearing me laugh about it, makes it less scary. Looking at a parade of mistakes makes you more confident. I’m fond of a little phrase I coined in High School. “I want to make the world laugh. And if I can’t do it as the clown, then I’ll do it as the Joke.” We’re here to break the ice, to take the first step, so you can feel confident learning from our errors.
Kitchen Catastrophe is, in many ways, educational. It might show you a new ingredient, or recipe, or cooking style, but the point is to make it fun. Because people like to do things they think are fun. So if I can get you cooking a little more by burning a roast, I will gladly gnaw shoe leather for a week.
NEXT TIME: ALAN MAKES CIDER FISH TACOS WHILE I TAKE A DAY TO DRINK AWAY THE SICKENING TASTE OF EMOTIONAL HONESTY