I have a very annoying habit. It’s something that bugs Emily so much that it’s caused some big fights through the years. I’m aware of it and I’m working on it, but it’s a hard habit to break. Let me know if I’m alone on this one: I will take the advice of a specific friend over someone else’s advice, even when that bit of advice is THE EXACT SAME BIT OF ADVICE! I don’t know why I do it, I don’t know what goes into my decision making, but for some reason I will blow off someone’s recommendation (let’s say Emily’s for instance) but heed the exact same recommendation from a different source.
Wait before we go on here is a video of what you can expect from this post:
Examples: She said I’d like Paul Auster, I told her no. Our friend Paul said I’d like Paul Auster, I told him yes. She told me to watch Veronica Mara, I said “uh a teenage girl detective show?”, but then my buddy Dirks said “it’s actually really smart,” so I gave it a whirl. She told me I’d like Armchair Expert, but it wasn’t ’til Vulture told me I should listen that I put on my headphones and was like “shhh, I’m trying to listen to my new friends Dax and Monica.” There are tons of these examples.
Why?? Is it a trust thing? Is an ownership thing? A spite thing? Whatever it is, it’s annoying, I’ve been told. And it’s happened again. Emily told me I’d like cooking, but it wasn’t until this beautiful man (below), my new best imaginary friend, Matty Matheson, told me, that I actually started doing it.
I’ve tried “cooking” before in my life, but it was more like the college version of cooking where you pat yourself on the back for getting creative with .99 cent ingredients that you can make last a week. “You should try my marinara! It’s Prego, sure. But I then, and get this, I added meat! And you’ll never guess what else! I added some garlic powder! And this is what really sets it apart- I added, ready? I added… onions!” And that’s what I thought cooking was. Is this a guy thing? Are we getting placated into thinking we’re good at something we’re not? Are you all tricking us into thinking that our creations are good and unique even though every other dude makes this exact thing and wants to be thanked for reinventing spaghetti sauce? I have a feeling that’s the case. Oh, what sad creatures we are.
But there’s hope. At least I found some hope, and it took a crazy dude with head-to-toe tattoos and a rat tail to convince me. I’ve watched cooking shows before and followed recipes before, but it always felt like I was just visiting. Or like I was doing homework. Or like I was indulging in some la-di-dah version of a romantic night with Emily. I never was interested in actually cooking. That is, until I met my new friend Matty, and I took his advice over everyone else’s and started to f’ing COOK.
I was introduced to Matty through Instagram when a guy I follow, who sells vintage Grateful Dead shirts, posted a video of Matty cooking in a shirt that he had sold him. I was in love at first sight. Here’s a larger than life dude, tatted up to the neck, wearing a too-tight Bertha shirt, screaming a high-pitched song at the camera about chopping onions. WTF? I went to his YouTube channel and proceeded to watch almost all of the episodes of his newest Youtube show “Just A Dash” in one sitting. It was better than I had imagined.
Matty has a way of hitting the perfect balance of being hilarious while also teaching you how to cook a legit delicious meal. His show is kind of the anti-cooking show. It leaves in mistakes, curse words, messes, and in general pulls back the curtain on what goes into that kind of show. When Matty loses his mind while waiting for his chorizo lasagna to bake, you feel like you’re just hanging with your funniest friend in his kitchen.
I can’t put my finger on why he’s so strangely captivating and comforting. He yells a lot, he drops a ton of f-bombs, he goes on tangents, he picks his ear while he’s cooking. He’s a mess. But he’s an honest mess. I trust him, he’s not putting on an act, he’s just being himself, burps and all. And he makes us feel that we too could be good cooks, even though we don’t have French accents or perfect kitchen skills. I could watch him for hours. He’s like a lunatic teddy bear you just want to hug. And the icing on the cake is, his recipes are amazing.
When we started the lockdown here, we knew we would need to cook more than we normally do, and I was actually excited about that. I finally had a friend (Matty) that I trusted, who told me I should check out this “cooking” thing. So I dove in.
We started with his Shepards Pie, which seemed like a good one for our family. We set up the laptop on the counter and got to it. This was the first exposure my kids had to Matty and they were instantly hooked like Emily and I were. “He’s funny!” they yelled as we dove for the mousepad trying to skip the parts where he cursed up a storm. Too late. Oops.
The whole family got involved in the cooking, and there was a huge pride that came when we finally ate our creation. It turned out super yummy.
Next, I made some burgers following Matty’s advice that you should treat a burger like a steak. That basically means that you don’t overdo it with additions to the meat, just some salt and then some pepper when it’s cooked. I’m usually a bit squeamish about handling raw meat, but Matty helped me face my fear of rolling those patties into perfect little pucks.
We’ve been getting some frozen meats delivered to us, so we can avoid the grocery store as much as possible, and in one of the deliveries came some nice NY strip steaks, so I wanted to give those a go. Like every other dude out there, I used to consider my steak skills pretty good. I could grill them with a bunch of spices and usually get them to come out medium rare-ish. And I would get compliments, but given my previous Ragu recipe above, I’m now rethinking all compliments. Matty cooks his steaks on the stove by searing them in a ton of oil, then butter-basting, which makes them perfect. I then found a recipe he did for a kale based chimmichurri, which was the perfect topping. Yummmmmmm.
Lastly, I tried his “Fluffiest Pancakes” and I kinda blew it. I read the recipe rather than watch the whole video for the first time, and I missed the tip about not over-mixing the final batter, so when I tried to pour mine it was way too thin. I added some extra flour and it helped. They were by far the best pancakes I’ve made. And it was the first time I made them without a mix, from scratch.
Please note my “Bo Knows Jerry” shirt in this pic, it’s one of my most prized possessions. And to keep it clean, I’m ordering my first apron. Hell, I’m even looking at a new chef’s knife, and definitely am going to buy myself some Matty oven mitts when my birthday comes. ‘Cause I’m a cook now.
I wish that there were online teachers like Matty in other intimidating fields. Like what if there was a mathematician with tats and a rat tail, who screamed, “That’s a f’ed up quadrilateral, but if you try this thing, you’ll be doing some sweet f’ng math!!” or if there was like a YouTube course on art history with a dude shouting, “That’s the thing with the f’ing Byzantine works man! They’re heavily influenced by those crazy ass Greeks!”. I’d be a really smart guy if those types of shows existed. But for now, I’m just an amateur cook. And I’m really enjoying it. I just needed the right friend to convince me to try it.
And I promise, I will listen to Emily the next time she suggests something. Except for Love Is Blind. I refuse to watch that one.
Unless someone else says it’s good.