That one time when the salad got a dressing down

Matt and Cheryl

It’s all a bit boring when things go to plan.  That’s why I, and 1.5 million other Australians apparently, would much rather watch a train wreck.

As train wrecks go, nothing has more potential that a cougar/cub scenario and if the trailer is true to its tease, Cheryl and Matt are going to charge ahead at full speed, miss the hairpin turn and careen off the cliff.

Tonight’s episode starts with some icky boudoir interaction, the camera firmly focused on Cheryl’s décolletage, while she goes into the bedroom to wake up Matt.  It’s not unlike my own morning ritual when I go in to wake up my son, the only difference being that I send a pair of grown dogs to jump on the boy and wake him up.  Cheryl sends in a pair of puppies.

Anyway, the track to disaster continues with the naming of the restaurant – The Odd Couple. It’s meant to show how whacky and cool Matt and Cheryl are even though there’s that whole winter/summer thing going on.  I must point out at this stage, that nothing makes your guests feel more welcome than coming to your house for the first time only to plant their derriere on a whoopi cushion. But, having put this hilarious scenario into play, I quiver in anticipation that Zana gets that particular musical chair. The most disturbing thing about the décor, however, has to be the Warhol inspired wall of Matt and Cheryl loving it up. At least those people seated away from it might have a chance of an appetite.

Finally they start prep.  Cheryl starts going on about how delicious Matt’s croutons are.  That’s nice Cheryl, but those bits of bread he’s chucking into that marinade look like they’d taste disgusting. But before you can say “tarragon sauce” the guests have arrived.  Rosie cops the whoopi cushion, much to my chagrin, but all is not lost because I’m anticipating plenty of foul noise to come out of Zana later.

If you go to the supermarket tomorrow and are unable to find olive oil, it is because Matt has poured about seven gallons of it into the baby poo marinade for the salad.  A Caesar salad no less.  A salad that signifies Cheryl and Matt’s love.  So the oil must be less about flavour and more about lubricant.

You see, Cheryl says that Matt once cooked her a chicken Caesar salad that blew her mind.  I guess that explains why she doesn’t seem to have much of it left.  There was just enough to come up with awesome menus (she’s the first one so far to be able to work a printer) which are embossed on vinyl records.  Nice for them to have one hit, but so did Jo Beth Taylor before she faded into the type of celebrity that gets her a gig on “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.”

At the table, Jordan starts waxing on in anticipation of the chicken Caesar.  He thinks there’s going to be a WOW factor.  Close, Jordan.  The WTF factor is soon on the way to the table.  Frankly, it looks like something cooked up by a twelve year old that only his mother could find anything nice to say about… Oh…hang on…

Then there is this incredibly awkward moment where I physically try to sink into the couch as Pete delivers his twelve minute monologue which can be summarised thus: How can you eff up an effing Caesar salad?

I feel sorry for Cheryl and Matt… that someone let them past the audition process. Thankfully they are back in the kitchen so they can’t hear Zana’s pretentious diatribe about how she can’t eat lettuce unless each leaf has been rinsed in the headwaters of the Ganges and all the black bits picked off the leaves by the Dalai Lama himself.  But Laura loves it!  Makes a change from gall bladder of road kill I guess.

Cheryl’s confident about the next dish.  The hero of the dish is Pee Puree.  “Mmmmm!” she purrs as she sucks on Matt’s spoon.  “Tastes like pee.  It makes such a difference when you use fresh pee.”

What’s that you say?  It’s PEA puree?  Oh, silly me.  Homophones can be soooo confusing.  That accounts for the green.

Puree done, Cheryl and Matt plate up.  Matt smears puree across the plates like some fluey kitchen spirit has emptied the contents of its nose across the mismatched crockery.

Another excruciating evaluation follows, but there is consensus that Cheryl and Matt know how to handle carrots (and probably cucumbers, parsnips and any other like shaped vegetable).  There is a precious moment when Manu observes the grit on the carrots.  Zana’s face contorts, reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s scream.

“THERE’S SHIT IN THE CARROTS?” yells her partially deaf internal warning system.

Then just as suddenly she calms, realising this open the door to critique the hairy root and simultaneously tell everyone how much better than them she is.  For a lawyer, she is pretty bloody clueless, and not in an endearing, Elle Woods way.

This far in, we know that anything named Chocolate Seduction Pudding is not going to bode well for these two.  Manu, he who hails from the home of seduction, is impressed by nothing in that brandy glass – not even the raspberry that sits on top of the ice-cream like a pert little nipple.  And sadly, I think that was the seduction part.

Now, an aside. I just can’t let this observation go. There are few who would dispute that chocolate and seduction are synonymous.  There are certain stores where one can buy chocolate body paint and other such accompaniments to amour (or so I’m told).  But Cheryl used cacao powder in the cake.  In what sort of alternate universe does one derive pleasure from licking cacao powder from another’s navel?  You’d have to really get off over antioxidants and magnesium levels.

Back in the restaurant, Cheryl makes the cardinal mistake.  She admits that her ice-cream is made from condensed milk.  Kind of like Matt’s grandma would make back in the days before crème anglaise and ice-cream machines were invented.

Oh…yes…that’s right.

So it’s time for judging. Pete starts and it looks like this meal has actually given him a few more crow’s feet and his eyes look bloodshot like he’s been unfaithful to his paleo ethos and he’ll be heading straight off to give himself a activated almond enema to cleanse himself of the whole wretched experience.

No surprises that Cheryl and Matt’s score is a paltry thirty-one.  But Cheryl does her best to remain upbeat and build up Matt, who’s sulking like he’s just lost his under 12 soccer grand final. “There, there, darling.  Let Mummy give you something special…”

Yep.  It looked like it would go off the rails, and it did.  Right down to the little red caboose.  But you’ve done enough, Cheryl and Matt.  You’ve made yourselves stand out, and in this country, that makes you bonafide celebrities and the pages of New Idea await.

Just please, don’t ever again let us watch you cook.

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