Instead, we get some otherworldly version of the SNL Delicious Dish ladies:
First cook: “Boy, I’ve always wondered what something like this ingredient could be used for. Hmm.”
Second cook: “Oh, you mean the salt? Why, that’s a GREAT question! Let me tell you ALL about it!”
And so forth.
But then we get to the heart of the presentation: the cooking. And first up on the agenda – muffalettas! Yes, the classic N’Awlins sandwich that’s piled high with meat and cheese and all sorts of yummy things. In fact, they set the anticipation level pretty high through their slide presentation, which shows them getting fresh ingredients from Reading Terminal Market that morning, and lo and behold, there’s a picture of a muffaletta, about a foot high, stacked with every meat and cheese imaginable. Sweet! This will probably be a slightly healthier version of that, I’m thinking.
Hmm. Okay. I guess that can work too, if you substitute lettuce for bread and still pile it high with the good stuff. I try to pay attention, but Katie and Melinda are just chattering away like magpies.
Me, hissing: “Pssst! Pssssssssssssssttt! Girls! Can we pay attention here please? I’m trying to learn how to make a muffaletta salad that seems to bear no resemblance whatsoever to the sandwich of the same name.”
Now surrounded by the proper kind of respectful silence, I gamely listen on, waiting for the part at the end where they’ll surely pile on the masses of meat and cheese, right? Right now they’re taking half an hour to make the homemade dressing, which is really just glorified oil and vinegar.
“Then you use some freshly picked peppercorns from your adorable little rooftop garden, and put exactly 12 of the roundest looking ones – I like to use this special device to make sure I get ones that are round and not oddly misshapen – into your mixture that I’ve just taken half an hour to prepare…”
“And then, to finish it up…”
I perk up, eagerly waiting for the muffaletta part to come in.
“You garnish it with this sprig of jicama, and voila! Your Almost-Like-A- Muffaletta -Salad!”
Huh? As Cori’s husband Dan later points out, that’s not a muffaletta salad – it’s a fricking garden salad. No wonder guys don’t go to these conferences – they’d never stand for this stuff.
“So for this, you want to start out with a fresh pumpkin that you’ll hollow out and cook yourself – and then you want to pop over to the market like we did and pick up a huge piece of fresh ginger, like this! And then spend hours slicing off pieces for the soup – this will really require some muscle power!”
Okay, now seriously folks. No offense meant to the organizers of this conference at all, because they did put together an immensely well-run event – but these two are talking to a bunch of cancer survivors here. Most of us are broke, none of us have tons of free time, and if we do, we’re not going to spend the day traipsing to the market to pick up fresh ginger root to grind, m’kay? So telling us how to spend literally hours making one batch of pumpkin soup isn’t all that helpful.
Finally, they’re winding things up with my favorite part: dessert! Whee! This would surely have to be good, right?
“For dessert, because sugar is BAD BAD BAD, we picked up a whole bunch of these different kinds of seeds and nuts, and we’ll make a paste out of some of them, then sprinkle in a carob chip or two…”
That does it. Carob? Also known as one of the most heinous substances known to man?? It’s time to take matters into my own hands.
Me: “Whoopie pie, anyone? I bought them this morning at RTM. Look, there’s chocolate, and here’s a red velvet one…”
Our cooks yammer on as our table partakes in whoopee pie goodness. Finally, this seminar is over, and who should come bustling in?
Cori, bustling in: “You guys won’t believe this! I couldn’t get anyone to open up the slutty nurse outfit store, so I’ve been looking ALL OVER this city and haven’t found anything so far. I must have that outfit!”
The sisterhood springs into action….