Friday, October 01, 2004


Consommé, as you know, is a very simple, clear soup.

The above sentence is a lie.

Consommé is clear, yes, but it's far from simple. I remember flipping through the latest edition of that marvelous tome, The Joy of Cooking, and reading a consommé recipe. I could feel the wrinkles in my brain smoothing out like lumpy butter melting in a microwave. By the time I finished reading the recipe, my mind was buzzing with a weird white noise, almost as if my asshole were trying to shit and whistle at the same time. Consommé didn't compute.

Korean soups exhibit a certain joy. There are many procedural parallels, believe it or not, between Korean jjigae and rib-sticking American stews. Some patience is required, yes, but the general rule of stew is chop and toss.

Consommé is different.

Consommé, more than any Korean soup I know, is all about timing and procedure and absolutely correct ingredients and equipment. The making of good consommé requires deft choreography not unlike a detailed wushu routine. A split second's error can easily result in the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

I don't have The Joy of Cooking with me, but here, in spirit, is what a standard consommé recipe reads like. I've tried to capture the indecipherability of it. Behold the mysterium tremendum et fascinans of consommé:

1. Grab a live lobster. Amount of struggle is proportional to freshness.
2. Extract its immortal soul with your teeth or some other tool made of bone or rhinoceros horn.
3. Toss the soulless lobster aside. Its material body is irrelevant to the rest of the recipe.
4. Place immortal lobster soul in a metal bowl, along with 3 cups of ground angel ovaries, preferably harvested just after Angel Mating Season.
5. Using a strong wire whisk, whisk together lobster soul and angel ovaries until you hear thunder in the distance and the crickets have stopped chirping.
6. At this point, it's extremely important to cackle evilly for ten to fifteen seconds. Skipping this step results in a bad consommé.
7. Strain the mixture three times through cheesecloth and place in a large pan. Bring to a rolling boil and leave in that state for exactly 14.899639 minutes.
8. If the mixture is still misbehaving (e.g., if distant thunder is accompanied by lightning, and the crickets are still chirping), add three tbsp. of water (this will silence the crickets).
9. To check for doneness, remove a half-teaspoonful of the consommé and toss it onto your girlfriend's exposed thigh. If pubic hair immediately springs up from the contact points, your consommé is just about ready. Reduce heat and simmer another five minutes; serve immediately.

With indecipherable directions like the above, it's a wonder anyone can make the damn thing.

FUCK fucking consommé!

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POST SCRIPTUM: Take a look at this real recipe for consommé if you think I'm joking. Boil, skim, strain, boil, skim, strain... all to produce a liquid with about the same appeal as dog drool.


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