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You won't believe it, but this is Gordon Ramsay and me, myself, your humble blogger, having an exchange about soup. I KNOW.
I will try to keep this story reasonably short, because it is a little personal tale from out here at press tour, and in it, I score a little triumph, and everyone knows that you can barely tell such a story at all, and if you do, you must tell it with a minimum of fanfare.
CUE TRUMPETS! CLANG THE TOWN BELL!
Gordon Ramsay was at press tour to promote his new Fox show Masterchef, which is another imported Ramsay show that's already established in the UK. As you may know, in Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay helps restaurant owners by yelling at them. In Hell's Kitchen, he helps semi-competent professional chefs by yelling at them. In Masterchef, he works with home cooks, but he says he doesn't yell at them as much.
At the end of the panel discussion, Ramsay announced that he was going to have a little contest for the assembled critics (I'm going to guess there were 100 or so at this particular session) to determine the best palate.
Now, I do not have the best palate in this room of 100 critics. I personally know at least one critic who was present who has a massively more sophisticated palate than mine. But! Ramsay said that the winner would be determined by one's ability to identify ingredients in a gazpacho. I've made gazpacho! (If you've never had it, it's basically a cold spicy vegetable soup with a tomato base.) I like winning, and I like Gordon Ramsay, so I'll play along, right?
We all got tiny little cups of soup and tiny little spoons. Ramsay took his microphone out into the crowd, and if you raised your hand, he'd come over and have you name an ingredient. He told us there were a total of 15. We'd keep guessing until we got them all, or until nobody could name any more.
We started with tomatoes, cucumbers, salt, basil, olive oil, and tarragon (this is where luck enters into it — had I been doing this independently, I would not have come up with tarragon if you let me guess all day — what's tarragon again?). Around this time, someone guessed vinegar, but there was no vinegar. Someone else guessed lemon juice. When that didn't work, I put my hand up and guessed lime juice, because if there was no lemon and no vinegar, there almost had to be lime juice in it, right? It was actually "limes," but they called me right.
There were several ingredients still left. We managed among us to get red peppers, celery, black pepper, Tabasco, cilantro, and tomato juice. And then one more that I don't remember, because I AM NOT ACTUALLY A GAZPACHO EXPERT, YOU GUYS. So there was one left. If you could get that one, you'd win. I enjoy a taste of victory after several long days of listening to press conferences, and I was right on the aisle where my eager nerd hand was easy to see, so after several other people missed, I figured I'd take another shot.
They were dropping hints that it had to do with the soup's consistency, and that the last ingredient was a building block, so I was figuring maybe it was a stock of some sort.
At this point, Joel Keller of TV Squad heroically threw himself on the soup grenade by guessing chicken stock. Which was wrong. Bad for Joel — good for me! I put my hand up to suggest beef stock, actually. But as Ramsay bounded over to me, when he was about two steps away, I realized it really had no meaty quality at all, so I had a change of heart and guessed vegetable stock instead. And with that last minute change of heart, I emerged victorious and won a mostly undeserved victory on behalf of my palate, which is so sophisticated that if left to its own devices, it will sometimes eat Ritz crackers for dinner.
So Gordon Ramsay congratulated me and called me "darling," and it is on the record for all time that I took the prize for Best Highly Strategic Guessing.