I am a second-hand television watcher. By this, I mean that it is extremely rare for me to turn on the TV with the intent of watching a show (except an occasional dose of ANW, which counts as a guilty pleasure). My tube watching generally consists of what I happen to see while sitting in restaurants or what I notice out of the corner of my eye while online at the kitchen table. My wife, who works from home, generally keeps the TV on for background noise; I do my writing and reading while plugged into ear buds, lost in my own world of the finest music of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Recently, however, while visiting my niece’s house for one of the kids’ birthdays, I found myself plopped on the sofa in their living room, directly in front of their big screen TV tuned to, of all things, Food Network.
While munching on chips and salsa, I got to witness the spectacle of three Chopped! competitors making their best efforts to prepare an “impossible” dessert out of a food basket filled with four wildly incongruous items. In this particular case, the laughable basket contained:
- “apple teeth”
- gum drops
- durian cookies
- nacho cheese flavored chips
I must admit that I had never heard of apple teeth before. They look somewhat like a cartoon rendering of a pair of dentures, perhaps the kind that wind up with a key to set them a-chattering. I had to look this up online to find out whether they are really made of apples, and it turns out that they are! I have no idea why the basket couldn’t have just included a few nice looking Red Delicious or Jonagolds. Then again, I suppose that would not have been weird enough for this show. Like any other reality show, the idea appears to be spectacle.
I know what durian fruit is, but I had never heard of them made into cookies. The package shown looked just like regular vanilla wafers to me. However, I know better. Durian is a popular fruit in many southeast Asian nations, including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Known for its thorns and its odor, the durian has been called the smelliest fruit on earth. I will spare you the gory details, but if you’re interested, you can read some graphic descriptions of the durian’s odor here. Let’s put it this way: The durian is banned from hotels and public transportation in most of Asia. The odor of a ripe durian is known to linger long after the fruit is consumed and the husk discarded.
In consideration of the above, I came to the conclusion that the producers of Chopped: Impossible were truly putting the screws to the competitors. Hopefully, the excessive processing that goes into the manufacture of a commercially produced confection left the infamous odor far behind.
Which leaves us with sickly sweet gum drops and cheese flavored chips. All in all, a rather disgusting combination. I wasn’t surprised to see most of the contestants crushing and crumbling everything from the chips to the durian cookies to the apple teeth.
All three dishes came out looking roughly like a manic version of an apple crisp or brown betty. I can only imagine what they tasted like. I thought of my father, who always enjoyed apple pie with a slice of cheese on top. Perhaps this is the general gist of apple teeth and nacho chips. Assuming the durian smell was long gone, it may even have been edible.
I believe the point of this show is to highlight the resourcefulness and creativity of the competitors. Accordingly, if the producers are reading this, I’d like to suggest that the basket for their next impossible dessert challenge contain (drum roll, please): dill pickles, Laffy Taffy, Oreos and lutefisk.
I’ll be running away now, thank you.