May 4, 2017

LUCKY IT'S NOT KOREAN FOOD:

THE POODLE WHO HOSTS A JAPANESE COOKING SHOW FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (Talia Lavin, 5/04/17, The New Yorker)

In 2007, one of the oddest and most delicious channels on YouTube launched with a short, lo-fi video on how to make Japanese hot-pot-style soup. "Today, I will show you how to cook sukiyaki," a male voice narrates, in accented English, over a shot of lightly simmering beef broth. Then the camera pans, abruptly, to a closeup of a poodle. "Hello, I am the host of this show, 'Cooking with Dog,' " the male voice--we realize now it is the dog's--continues, as the camera surveys his poofy hairdo and frilly purple collar. "O.K., let's get started." When the camera zooms out, the dog is perched beside a stove, and a middle-aged woman in a pink shirt begins following his cooking instructions.

This video, one of hundreds of episodes of the YouTube show "Cooking with Dog," has been viewed more than 1.4 million times. Over the years since the series launched, the dog (whose name is Francis) and the woman (known only as Chef) have released a new episode every Friday, unravelling the intricacies of Japanese dishes like octopus tempura, mochi, and pork soba noodles; Western favorites like pumpkin muffins, Valentine's Day chocolates, and spaghetti carbonara; and hybrids like matcha-flavored Swiss-roll cake and adzuki-bean popsicles. Francis delivers his instructions with the air of a patient and straightforward teacher, though the Japanese techniques and ingredients he describes may be unfamiliar to Western disciples. ("This time, you substitute komatsuna for shungiku.") He stands obediently by Chef's side throughout each lesson, seemingly untempted by the delicacies just inches away from his nose. "Good luck in the kitchen!" he encourages after each brewed dashi stock and noodle dish is complete. In a couple of episodes, Chef is nowhere to be found; instead, Francis is stationed at the stove pouring and scooping using a pair of strategically placed human hands.

"Cooking with Dog" is one of those gifts of the Internet that raises many compelling questions. (First and foremost: What is a poodle doing hosting a cooking show?) But it is delightful precisely because it refuses to answer, pursuing its unlikely premise for years with a resolutely straight face. 

Posted by at May 4, 2017 6:07 PM

  

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