“The first sign that I’d been unknowingly affected by cooking shows occurred on a Sunday morning when I realized I was talking to myself. I’d been making toast. “First, we cut our bread,” I whispered. “Do you know why?” I stopped what I was doing and looked up. “Let me tell you why.” It was eight-thirty. It was also Hour 25 of a seventy-two-hour commitment I’d made to watch continuous food television (sleeping only when the shows began repeating at midnight).
I’d begun the venture on a lark, curious about what I’d discover. This, for instance, is what I had learned about the hazelnut: “They grow on hazel trees. . . . They’re super-duper rich.” That was from the Food Network’s “Everyday Italian,” with Giada De Laurentiis. (The following week, on a show hosted by Sandra Lee, I heard, “Do you know when the first cheesecake was ever documented as being eaten or served? It was in 776, or 776 B.C., by the Greeks at the Olympics. Isn’t that pretty cool? Say that at a dinner party and everyone’s going to think you’re brilliant and well read.”) I don’t want to sound harsh—this wasn’t the History Channel—but, on the evidence, there was a surprisingly strong affinity between preparing food and talking baby talk.”
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