The great thing about food versus something like music is that if you imitate something great in music for a cheaper price, you wind up with a cheesy musical like Beatlemania for the bused-in matinee crowd (“Mash Hit— the incredible true story of Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett and the making of an American Halloween classic! Tickets now on sale at the Cadillac Theater box office!”) But if you imitate a meal by Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz for a cheaper price, you get publicity like this and this.
When I read these pieces, though, I thought— $300 may be a big markdown from $1500, but that’s still putting Achatz and Keller’s cuisine way out of the average American. And is that kind of elitism what the Age of Obama is about? Hell no. If I’m going to feed my family a fancy dinner, I don’t want to have to get a government bailout to make it happen, I want to be able to get everything at my local Aldi, and still have enough change from my $20 to buy a pack of unfiltered Luckies, or some crack.
I knew there was only one American who had the culinary skills, the day and a half of training at Cordon Bleu, the dysfunctional childhood spent binging and purging to share my vision and make the Achatz-Keller meal happen at a price that’s truly family-friendly. Yes, it’s none other than Sandra Lee, of Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee. Luckily, because of the global reach and reputation of Sky Full of Bacon, I was able to contact her and get her exclusive advice on how to make a meal every bit as beautiful as the one Keller and Achatz made with a fraction of the effort, expense, or knowledge of food. Here are some of her suggestions, which are sure to delight the whole family. To see the original dishes, go here.
Cornet of Salmon: “This is basically an ice cream cone with fish in it. Well, who has time to fish for salmon? Fish sticks are a family favorite, just put them on a vanilla wafer with a dash of onion powder. I call it Jaws On a Surfboard. Doesn’t that sound like more fun to eat?”
Prawn with yuba, miso and orange peel: “It’s too hard threading shrimp onto one of Alinea’s fancy little pieces of metal, and then wrapping orange peel around it. I just take an Orange Dreamsicle and then stick shrimp onto it with frosting from a tube. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and your family will love the presentation and the taste!”
Caviar on lemon gelee with califlower: “Caviar! Who has time for that? Just wet some instant mashed potato flakes and roll Lemonheads in them. Everybody will get a big kick out of discovering what’s inside.”
Black Truffle Explosion: “My chocolate truffles work great in this. Just stick in the microwave and boom!”
Hot Potato/Cold Potato: “This is where smart shopping can save you money and time. You’ve already got the instant mashed potato flakes, so follow the instructions on the box to prepare a cup’s worth. Then just stir in some T.G.I.Friday’s Potato Skins– they’re from the freezer section so they’re already cold! That’s precious time you can spend with your family instead of slaving in the kitchen all day, cooling things.”
Hen Egg Custard With Ragout Of Black Winter Truffles: “I have news for those fancypants chefs— eggs only come from hens! So if you paid extra for that, you got gypped! (No offense to Gyp-Americans.) A Jell-O pudding cup with one of my truffles in it works just fine. I loved those pudding commercials with Bill Cosby, didn’t you?”
Wild Striped Bass with camomile, shellfish, ginger: “Kids love fish sticks— and they’ll double-love them when they’re striped with peanut butter and jelly. To save time, buy the kind that has the peanut butter and the jelly in the same jar! That’s how you let your family know you really care about their happiness.”