I found myself watching Masterchef: The Professionals last night. Well, not quite watching it, more being aware of it happening, in a room where someone else was watching. One bizarre moment caught my attention, though. A grumpy Michelin-starred chef was explaining exactly how one of his dishes had to be prepared and presented. The individual peas in this dish, he said, must be peeled. Ordinary people just take the peas out of the pod. This man had decided that in a “fine dining environment”* if you don’t remove the membrane from around every individual pea, you might as well sling the whole dish in the bin.
If a chef can insist, with a straight face, on the importance of every pea on the plate being peeled, some might call him a driven perfectionist. I’d call him a madman with borderline OCD. I love food and I admire skilled, imaginative cooks but, for crying out loud, get a grip. Life really is too short to peel a pea.
*Michel Roux junior could be considerably less irritating than the average celebrity chef if he would only stop repeating the poncy expression “fine dining”.