The turducken's fine, but the peach could use a shave

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You might not have high hopes for a talk show streaming live from a place called the Waffle Shop.

The name suggests a lack of conviction, for starters, and perhaps the unappealing prospect of mumbling through mouthfuls.

But I was chef Tom Totin's guest on "Cookspeak" on Sunday morning, and I had both a killer pumpkin waffle and a great time, not to mention the privilege of watching Tom make luscious chili on an induction burner before my very eyes.

You may well ask what I was doing on a cooking show. The answer is obvious. My purpose as a cook is to serve as a terrible warning to others.

I related the Rutabaga Ordeal and the Great Parsnip Massacre, which I probably should have skipped because it was Sunday morning and people were eating.

When's the last time you ate a fuzzy peach? I didn't realize this, but marketing people at some point decided that people would eat more peaches if they weren't so fuzzy. So now the peaches you buy at the supermarket are defuzzed. There are vast agricultural sweatshops full of sub-minimum-wage migrant workers whose job is to shave fruit.

No, that's not true, of course. Like rutabagas, the peaches are waxed.

OK, that's not how it's done either, but it's a fun mental picture. Also, the way it is really done is almost more unbelievable; the fuzz is removed with a machine like a belt sander.

And now that it's Christmas - have you been Downtown lately? Merry Christmas, everybody! - we inevitably found ourselves talking about that seasonal outrage, the turducken. If you've been trapped down a well for the past decade, a turducken is a poultry bomb consisting of a boneless chicken stuffed inside a boneless duck stuffed inside a boneless turkey stuffed inside a golf cart, doused with gasoline and driven through a wall of Legos.

Labor-intensive? You bet. It's hard to find people willing to clean turducken-houses on the turducken farms, and they have to be plucked with a belt sander.

It's almost enough to drive you into the arms of a Tofurkey. But not quite.

We also talked about celebrity TV chefs and the foodies who follow them. Tom seems to be able to make really yummy food with interesting, complex flavors without acting as if he's performing either magic or cold fusion. Good luck getting on the Food Network with that kind of attitude.

Foodies have become a large and distinctive enough group to attract parody and ridicule, so congratulations on that. "The Simpsons" has done a whole episode about toy food prepared with unconventional implements like blowtorches and cryosurgical spray-freezers. It's ruined now. Up until I saw that, I was thinking about doing an entire tasting menu for a party using a set of hot rollers and a soldering iron.

Foodies and their gurus are even stretching the definition of "food." I thought some of the new ice cream flavors, like rosemary gherkin or whatever, were kind of weird, but now you're expected to chow down on shrimp legs whirled in a particle accelerator and served with a smear of acorn foam. Does that come with fries?

Call me a philistine, but I think I'd rather have another pumpkin waffle. Or some turkey chili with a side of balsamic beets. Hold the belt sander.

Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: .


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