Tuesday, January 13, 2009

anton ego cooks!

I really enjoyed Ratatouille. I love food and cooking, and I like talking animals (but I hate talking babies in the sense of Look Who's Talking or those weird advertisements). I secretly like French things, even though bad experiences with certain French international classmates make me publicly disavow this with militant Francophobia. I was super excited to see (and take a class in) the kitchens where the animation crew refined the cooking motions for their storyboards. In fact, I love all things Pixar. TD has a friend who works for Pixar and we stayed through the credits of Wall*E to see his name as a lighting engineer guy. My favorite movie is The Incredibles, although I have this huge love for Monster's Inc. and my nephew loooved Toy Story. One of my favorite bits, because I'm a big ol' softy who loves grandiloquent monologues (cough blogger narcissist cough), is the speech by Anton Ego, the crazy mean critic in Ratatouille:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talents, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new; an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking, is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto, "Anyone can cook". But I realize - only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.

I just eat up faux-populist stuff like that, man. This season's Top Chef is particularly enjoyable to me because I really liked the background story of Eugene, a tattooed tough Asian guy who started as a dishwasher and self-trained himself to become an executive chef. TD makes fun of me for liking the human interest stories, but really, aw.

Anyway, the real life Anton Ego is now cooking and himself being critiqued! It is like something out of a Disney movie! Or that line in High Fidelity, in which a professional critic tries his hand at actually creating something and putting something new out in the world. Except that this guy is getting skewered. Heh, skewered.

The glib, sanctimonious person in me would love a critic getting his comeuppance (especially one who is so scathing and self-satisfied and blindly in love with his own supposed talent as compared to the rubes he deigns to critique, a true Ego indeed), but I sorta feel bad for the guy.

I have no idea what this means though. Phoebe?:

“Those macaroons — they’re so hard they’re like stuffed Christians,” said Marc Beekenkamp, a Web designer, using an expression that means the dish is too heavy.

Stuffed Christians?! Also, don't they mean "macarons"?

Also, this much be a very French observation:

That point, at least, has never been in dispute. Mr. Simon prides himself on being an outsider and a provocateur. His columns describe not only a restaurant’s food, but also its service, décor and clientele, even down to the movement of the breasts of women around him.

Huh. Do the women in France not wear bras? Do they jog while eating? Why do their breasts move? Maybe they heave with emotion at the gastronomical delights, their bosoms quivering with anticipation or whatever.

This is a fun article to read, if only to remind casual and professional writers "not to overdo it." I try to refrain from purple prose if I can (cough), but my natural enthusiasm for everything makes me deem everything "the best ___ ever," and my tendency to become too emotionally invested in things makes me want to cry with disappointment. Like this Ritz cracker I'm eating right now after hours of not eating? The BEST cracker EVER. All buttery, crumbly delight.