Can Cook's Illustrated Help You?
More than a year ago, I wrote a brief piece about my skepticism and slight disdain for the Cook's Illustrated Magazine. After thinking about it recently, and reading some comments about the subject from Dave, The Fumbling Foodie, I feel I need to revisit the topic and maybe put a little more effort into what needs to be said.
Cook's Illustrated is the magazine that is produced by the same folks who produce the PBS cooking show called America's Test Kitchens. The show is just a watered down version of the monthly magazine that likes to put clever witticisms in the mouths of its host Christopher Kimball. Not only that, but the people on the show are extremely critical of about 95 percent of the products and foods they come in contact with. Watch a few episodes and you might start to wonder if they actually like anything at all. Or at least anything that's not made by Al-Clad.
Before proceeding, I would like to state that I do enjoy both the show and the magazine. Given the time and the energy, I believe that one could glean quite a bit of useful information from both productions. I like the fact that the Test Kitchen has blind taste tests for products, and that they test a variety of products at a variety of prices. Sometimes the most expensive gear is deemed the best by the testers, but once in a while a cheaper gadget gets the prize.
Dave the Fumbling Foodie wrote a while back:
I've learned to take the reviews in Cook's Illustrated with a grain of salt. For example, when I purchased my hand blender the other day, my choice (Cuisenart Quick Prep) was not reviewed but they did review two other Cuisenart models and the reviewer was not very complimentary.
What bothers me about the tone of the publication is that there is only ONE way to do certain things and their way is the only way and the best way. Usually, these ways tend to border on the expensive and time-consuming. Often, the magazine will feature a three-page article on how to make the perfect dish, citing the pitfalls, trials, and errors of doing so. Most of the time, these articles imply that the way they are explaining to cook something or what ingredient to use is the only way to do it.
I really don't like that kind of thinking and food snobbery. This is one of my pet peeves in life. I don't like being told that there is only one way to do something. There are very few times in life on planet Earth that you can say that something should be done one way and one way only.
So just a little discerning when it comes to accepting cooking advice and reading product reviews, and that includes everything here at Men in Aprons. Sure, I'll admit it. I may dislike the tone of CI, but you don't have to take my word for it. Check it out for yourself; explore and make your own opinions.