Thursday, March 29, 2007

Giada, Let The Chef Be The Chef

Guess which beautiful cook from a famous Italian movie family was on Today again this morning? Finally, I get that she was obviously spending a week in New York on their couch. Today's story was sad. It was about her brother, Dino, who died of melanoma when he was 30. (His obit said 31, but she was his sister, so she should know.) She doesn't talk about it too much, but it was mentioned in her Chefography.

On a happier and more delicious note, there was a segment with Chef Scott Conant cooking a lighter version of Fritto Misto. It was Natalie Morales's story, supposedly, but Giada was standing to the side, commenting on everything and interrupting the chef...as she's done with every cooking story this week. I love Giada, but it's not always about her!!!

She asked the chef what his secrets were for frying, adding "I have MY OWN, but what are yours?" Apparently, she approved of his answers - have the oil at the right temperature and don't fry too much at once, because she allowed him another few sentences before cutting in again.

He was presenting a very interesting spin on Fritto Misto. First of all, this is usually a seafood-only dish. He adds vegetables to lighten things up and fries them together. He cuts everything the same size - the calamari were in strips not rings (much more modern) and the vegetables were cut in pieces, so they would cook at the same time.

Here's where things got interesting...Scott was talking about soaking the vegetables in milk to sweeten them, before tossing them in flour. And Giada REALLY objected to this. While still trying to sound all sweetie pie, she commented that you might not need to do that in the spring, when the vegetables are already sweet. BUT if you do it in the winter, then (AND ONLY THEN she meant) that's a great tip.

Interestingly, there's no mention of soaking the vegetables in milk in the recipe on the Today website...only the calamari. I still think it's a good idea. Incidentally, soaking anchovies in milk gets rid of a lot of their saltiness.

THEN, Scott showed us his signature big "move", he threw in thinly sliced lemons and all kinds of fresh herbs...on top of all the veggies and calamari to fry right along with them. What does this do? First of all it flavors the oil - really an excellent idea - AND it gives you a gorgeous garnish. One of the rules of cooking is that all garnishes should be edible. Crispy fried parsley is very delicious and a nice counterpoint to the other fried food.

Luckily, before the segment ended, Natalie stepped in and hurriedly had him introduce the 50 other dishes he had readied for the show this morning. I have to admit Giada may have been put in a not-great situation. Either let her do the interview...or not, but don't have her hanging uselessly to the side.

Giada is best when she's captain of her own ship, as in Everyday Italian and Behind the Bash. In a one-on-one situation, though, she still has a lot to learn about guiding the interview, but not taking over, and ending on time before the computer shuts her down.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I saw this segment on "Today" and agree that it was kind of strange having Giada hanging off to the side with no real purpose.

I just found your blog today and am enjoying it!

Thanks! :-)