The Internet has this way of mashing disparate interests and media together, creating teeny, hyper-specific communities of like-minded enthusiasts. Are you really into both firearms and having sex with people dressed in giant stuffed animal costumes? I guarantee there’s a corner of the Internet out there dedicated to precisely that, although I’ll be damned if I’m going to pollute my search history looking for it, let alone link to it here.
It is not, in my opinion, always a good thing – our interests are frequently better and more interesting a la carte, and, like in cooking, blending everything together misses out on a lot of interesting texture. And, of course, there are…other hazards.
But combining skillful cookery and good TV shows with nice production values and a certain amount of wit just happens to be one of the awkward little corners I like, so I’m embracing the hypocrisy and proclaiming my love and appreciation for Binging With Babish, a YouTube channel wherein aspiring chef and funny dude Andrew Rea cooks up notable dishes from film and TV.
Ever wondered what Homer’s “patented, space-age, out-of-this-world moon waffles” would really taste like? Babish – the channel name is a West Wing reference, for added Jon Gold Wheelhouse Points – has you covered. (Spoiler – they’re not great.) His usual format is a faithful recreation of the dish as presented in the movie or TV show, which is usually really bad, followed by a sane version of the recipe that people might actually eat.
And that’s it, really – the culinary acumen is undeniable, but Rea’s deadpan commentary and reactions to some of the more off-the-wall recipes are what makes the channel worth watching. It doesn’t hurt that the videos are well-edited and that the production values are relatively high, of course – his kitchen is appallingly nice for a New York apartment, which makes me wonder where he gets the funding for something like this, although at this point, with a few million views on any given one of his videos, it’s probably self-sustaining.
The fact that Binging with Babish has blown up to the degree that it has is, in a way, a hopeful sign. There’s something deeply comforting about Rea’s fascination with Frazier and his sure-handed cooking. We’re enjoying touching all these well-worn cultural touchstones (what else are you going to do with touchstones, is what I want to know), and we’re tantalized by the idea of making them into something as sensuous and tangible as food.
Rea also provides recipes. I myself made the spaghetti aglio e olio from the movie Chef – which I haven’t seen, since it sort of looked like a movie Jon Favreau wrote so that he could chew face with Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara – and it was both easy to do and tremendously good. I am a ham-handed cook at the best of times, and I’m crushing a box of triscuits as I write this, so the fact that even a simple dish like that panned out is noteworthy.
In any case, go watch some Binging with Babish – it’s a fun little box to live in for a while.