4/20/09

RVOD061 Cooking Terms and What They Mean

(1949, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Should a person who doesn't know what “boil” means even be allowed near an open flame?

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:


Margie doesn’t know how to cook. She should read a cookbook.

Summary:

'Breathing' is something you should never stop doing while cooking.  You should also ensure that your heart continues beating.Brand-new wife Margie returns from her honeymoon, sends her husband off to work, and settles down to make him his favorite dinner: chocolate cake. But the cook book is so darn full of long, confusing words. Technical, erudite culinary jargon like “cream” confuses and terrifies her. When the recipe asks her to “cream the butter”, for instance, Margie’s tiny brain somehow interprets the operative word (cream) as a noun instead of a verb. Despite the lack of measurements pertaining to the use of said cream (the substance), she just pulls out a pitcher and dumps it in, diluting her batter beyond usability. Frustrated by her confectionary failure, she slumps down in front of the cookbook to see if she can puzzle out where she went wrong.

At this point, the narrator takes over to explain that cream (the verb) means to beat a fatty substance such as butter until creamy. An unnamed but far more competent housewife takes over to demonstrate the definition of many such fancy, high-falutin’ cooking terms, including “boil”, “stir” and “bake”. Finally, Margie gets to the back of the cookbook where she finds a handy glossary. Hurrah! Her cake is saved! The new cake she’s about to make after throwing the old one away, that is.

Thoughts:

Baaaaaaa!It’s Margie’s first day of homemaking, and she doesn’t even know what “boil” means? Let’s consider the possibilities:

a) She was raised in unimaginable wealth and privilege, never having to lift a finger around the house or in a kitchen. Then she married a relatively poor (i.e. middle-class) man that daddy didn’t approve of, was disowned, and now has to learn to live as one of the unwashed masses.

b) She is a Stepford-esque sex droid invented by her “husband”, who programmed her with the ability to entertain him, but, being a man from the forties, thought that the ability to do housework was just sort of implied by the breasts. Or in her case, by the mechanical, breast-shaped protuberances.

c) She is relentlessly, hopelessly stupid.

Option "c" is most likely, I’ll grant you, but if it’s the one that applies, then all the cookbooks in the world won't be enough to save her. Educational videos probably won’t help much either. Keep in mind that Margie represents this short film’s target audience, though. So, either the filmmakers thought their remedial little cinematic cooking course cured congenital idiocy, or this one’s for all you disowned heiresses and inadequately programmed sex robots out there.

The riffers kick off the commentary by adding cooking terms of their own. Important kitchen jargon such as, “Where the Hell’s My Dinner, Woman?” (Bill) as well as “Fancy terms, such as Easy Cheese” (Mike). When the narrator explains how to boil water, Kevin clarifies, “Water is an odorless, tasteless substance.” Later he instructs the inexperienced cook, “Be careful that Hansel and Gretel don’t kick you into the oven.” In a brief overview of candy-making, the narrator goes over something he calls the “sheet test”, only he doesn’t pronounce it quite right, leading to a lot of “baa” noises in the background. The film’s stunningly remedial subject matter provides the opening, and the riffers exploit it to great effect. With the commentary it’s worth watching even for non-heiress/robots like me and (I assume) you.