January 25th, 2013 / 3:02 pm

How To Basic

He doesn’t say anything. There is no music, just food sounds, a suck and flap of raw meat hitting things, eggs smacked. I like most of all that he doesn’t talk. Doesn’t call this stuff anything, doesn’t name it.

Sometimes there is a joke: the food comes fully formed out of the oven, like silly, boring magic.

That is not as good as when the food just stays fucked up. Still, it seems like he can’t help but smash the food when it is most right. In this one the camera is shaking so much after he pounds the chicken apart. He is putting the smashed chicken into the oven for the joke to come out and he is shaking so much.

The greenness of the final swamp here is my favorite. He uses Coke itself in his recipe for Coke, which seems like the best way to finally write an insulting recipe for Coke. The mess he makes is an equal opposite to the perfect foods that perfect chefs make on food shows: they represent a commitment you probably can’t make. You won’t go all the way with your mess, like he does. You won’t pour the entire bottle of milk onto your counter. Just like you won’t weigh your flour to the perfect increment. You won’t achieve the perfect temperature because you don’t have the best tools. You won’t get it right either way.

I love the three ice cubes moving in the cascade of milk, I love the black orb thing he tries to smash and then puts in with them, the watermelon hunk, all of this is also something I could never do.

He loves eggs for obvious reasons. But eggs, it is well known, are the most difficult thing to cook perfectly: they are delicate and unforgiving, just seconds on either side of the exact moment of doneness and they will not be perfect. Food snobs and chefs measure each other by eggs. It makes me happy that he uses them as their brilliant ideal as a perfect mess: it is runny but also sharp, it is sticky, hard to clean up, it is dangerous, not supposed to be touched, it is hard to control, too easy to make, it is a baby, you know, a sacred thing, the most special food, you have to go all the way with it.

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  1. postitbreakup

      coolest & most intriguing post that’s been on here in awhile

  2. Amy McDaniel

      yes!!! in japan if you order the egg thing first as a litmus test and it doesn’t come out right, you are free to walk right now, no $$ down

  3. Mike Young

      my favorite is the whole thing, but i especially like that A) it is an electric stove and B) the “real” fried chicken in the fried chicken video is KFC? / probably this is discussed in the youtube comments i am not going to look at

  4. Arthur Guess

      Molly Brodak has the best posts.

  5. spencermadsen

      this is great

  6. reynard

      especially the coke

  7. Jeremy Hopkins

      Plants are superior beings—I read that somewhere.

  8. mimi


  9. Mike Kleine

      I remember these videos. These videos are great. This is a good post. Thank you Molly!

  10. garret travis

      I really like these.

  11. Heather Christle

      Molly, these are so good. They are making me think of Lewis Freedman’s spelling poems, about which he said:

      “In those poems, I would attempt again and again to spell a phrase (say ‘plural possessive’ or ‘sign of the times’) failing each time to spell it correctly but carried forward in the mistake by the energetic trajectory of that which I was trying to spell. It felt important to me to repeat the same action over and over again and fail at it each time, especially when that action (like spelling) has a standardized correctness that normally erases a sense of the process of performing it. I perceive there is a joy as well as an agony (and a melancholy) in the way in which we make mistakes driven by a swerve away from the right or correct.”

      (from this conversation:http://www.flying-object.org/2011/03/seth-landman-lewis-freedman-discuss-part-1/)

      I feel like the chicken smashing is a result of the energetic trajectory of that which he is trying to cook.

  12. Jono Tosch

      I actually don’t like these videos. I can appreciate their wit, and I understand that these videos (or videos like them) are probably a necessary or at least unavoidable response to our culture’s growing obsession with food, foodies, etc, but I still ultimately do not like them because the food is, after all, real food, and it’s being wasted. Perhaps the amount of food wasted here is nothing compared to all the food that is wasted to make the Food Network, and therefore the anger present in these videos is justified, at least in a paradigm in which two wrongs do make a right. If you want shaky cooking videos that also send up the middle finger to the mainstream media, I can think of other authors and filmmakers who accomplish similar ends without the wasted food and without the overt anger. A big turn-off for me.

  13. Heather Christle

      Jono, I’m confused. The food is not being wasted; it’s just not being used to create something to eat. Is paint wasted if it’s not applied to a house? Is vaseline wasted if it’s poured down the Guggenheim Museum’s ramp?

  14. Jono Tosch


      I take your point, which seems to be that Art is equal to or transcends the value of the materials that compose it, and that “good art” justifies the process that produces it. Fine. Still, I would not put “paint” and “cow” (re: the steak) into the same class. That steak was a cow. It should be eaten, not thrown on the sidewalk. That is how I feel.

  15. Daniel Lichtenberg

      I like most of all that this is tagged as “film”.

  16. mimi
  17. Brooks Sterritt

      If this isn’t “film,” what is it?

  18. Brooks Sterritt

      Loved this too. It’s interesting how we ascribe some sort of hostility to the person filming (at least I considered it). The “chef” could be trying not to laugh, or have some really scary expression, or anything really. Is anything known about the person filming (i want to say “artist”)?

  19. Michael Martin

      I don’t get it. That isn’t a knock.

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