A New Product Attracts My Attention

Via the New York Times, which has become the object of my derision more than normally lately, I learned that you can now buy pre-formed parchment bags for cooking en papillote. The company, suspiciously, is Canadian, but at $3.99 for 10 bags it’s not outrageous. You could probably make 30 similarly-sized bags from a roll of parchment paper that costs a buck less, but that assumes you have hands and know how to use them, and who can assume that these days?

I started writing this post to make the point that if you can’t make a bag out of parchment paper, then you probably shouldn’t be cooking en papillote, but I found myself entranced by one of the comments on the product at Amazon.com. See if you’re not equally spellbound:

I LOVE THESE PARCHMENT BAGS!!! Brilliant, fabulous!! Simply fantastic shortcut for cooking. I saw them at the Fancy Food show, I got a few samples there thanks to the generous staff present, then, I cooked several things at home with the parchment bags. Fish is fabulous, vegetables luscious, and chicken comes out lovely. From what I have learned, they are a FANTASTIC SHORTCUT!! You don’t need any liquid to add, just aromatic herbs — fresh ones work the best, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, pop the pack into a hot oven, and you have a lovely, fast, meal — and cleanup is just throwing out the paper!!! It just doesn’t get better. WIth three kids, a hungry husband, a job and more, these paper bags are now my favorite new cooking tools. THANK YOU FOR MAKING THEM!! Thanks for selling them on amazon.com.
Oh, I forgot — THE HOUSE DOES NOT SMELL OF FISH WHEN I USE THE BAG!!!!!

THE HOUSE DOES NOT SMELL OF FISH!!! IT DOES NOT SMELL OF FISH!!! PREVIOUSLY, MY HOUSE SMELLED OF FISH, BUT NOW THAT I AM USING THESE PAPER BAGS, MY HOUSE NO LONGER SMELLS OF FISH!!!! DEAR GOD THANK YOU THE SMELL OF FISH IS GONE!!!!!

I don’t want to suggest that comment was left by someone who also happens to have an ownership interest in the company that produces those bags. No, that’s a lie. I desperately want to believe that the person who left that comment either has a financial interest in PaperChef, or has children being held hostage by the owners of PaperChef. Because if that’s just some random customer? Oh dear.

Though who am I to criticize a woman who has found a way to rid her house of the fishy smell that previously dominated? Would I, in similar circumstances, not also be so grateful as to TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS AND ADD EXTRANEOUS EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! ? What I want to know is what the fuck this woman was doing to make her house smell of fish in the first place? Was someone forcing her to cook fish? Was the cod mafia all up in her shit? Does her kitchen window open onto a river where spawning salmon, crazed with lust, jump periodically into her cupboards, to remain hidden until they rot?

Clearly I should feel pity for this woman. Though perhaps not as sorry as I feel for the other commenter at Amazon:

These bags work ok; but don’t put too much liquid ingredients in them, or they fall apart at the seems. I made some baked fish in a white wine sauce and it was just too much liquid for the bag.

I believe that comment argues in favor of my point that if you can’t fucking make a bag out of parchment paper, perhaps you shouldn’t be cooking en papillote?

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Robert

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10 2011

5 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. Natalie #
    1

    In case you didn’t realize it, women generally have a much better sense of smell than men. Also, in case you didn’t realize it, there are several home cooks out there who love eating fish for dinner but do not like the lingering smell that many fish can leave after a pleasant meal. Thus, the fact that these bags opened up the possibility of having a nice fish dinner at home while avoiding the lingering smell is a very good thing indeed, perhaps even worthy of capital letters to some. Get over yourself.

  2. Natalie #
    2

    Maybe some people shouldn’t be cooking en papillote, whatever that means, but it is un-American and anti-democratic for you to insist that people who do not take the time to make bags out of their parchment paper should not be allowed to cook their food in bags made out of parchment paper. You suck.

  3. Kristin #
    3

    Oh how I’ve missed reading such posts on a more frequent basis.

  4. Robert #
    4

    Thanks, K.

    Natalie: you are too smart for me. You read between (and apparently under, around, and adjacent to) the lines of my post and grasped the true meaning. I am completely in favor of a federal law mandating that only cooks who can fold parchment paper be allowed to cook en papillote.

  5. 5

    Natalie, our host has a valid point. One not skilled enough to prepare the papillote from a plain sheet of parchment should not be preparing food en papillote.

    While training at the Cordon Bleu, I witnessed many an apprentice meet his fate at the hands, so to speak, of a faulty papillote. Young Etienne, who had failed to fully seal the last of the small folds in his first papillote, was blinded in one eye as a concentrated jet of steam issued from improperly prepared parchment pouch as he removed it from the oven.

    Etienne was from Combier; an only child and the last scion of a gloriously successful and imminently respected restaurant family of the highest reputation. He had to withdraw from training and committed suicide after a brief and shameful stint as an apprentice affineur at a Belgian (the geographic location a significant cause of his depression) fromagerie.

    A life lesson to be learned, even if from the most obscure of cooking techniques, Natalie.



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