Top Chef Season 2, Episode 2: Don't take the lichees if you're on a reality TV show

This recap of episode 2 is brief since it's a week late due to my absence, and there really isn't that much to say about it.

The Quick Challenge to make 'sushi' was interesting, though not all of them actually made sushi. Sushi really means something that uses sushi rice, not just a dish made with raw seafood. The winning entry by Cliff was not sushi at all, it was a sort of Japanese-inspired appetizer. It did look very good though. Coincidentally, I just had a rather similar oyster appetizer, with passion fruit jelly instead of mango, this past week. That fruit-acid flavor does go very well with the brininess of the oyster.

As for the main challenge...it was quite obvious that Otto was going from the moment the lichee thing came up. The whole thing was so stupid it was hard to keep watching. You just don't try to get away with an unpaid-for ingredient in front of the scrutiny of the cameras. It was Keith's stack of pattern books on Project Runway all over again. Even more hard to bear than Otto's stupidity though was sexy-in-her-own-mind Marisa's self righteousness and near-hysterical reactions over the whole thing. She should really thank her stars that Otto did decide to 'take responsibility' and withdraw from the competition, otherwise her hockey-puck hard panna cotta should have gotten her kicked off. How can a supposedly trained pastry chef misjudge the amount of gelatin?

As for the rest of the "Asian" food...did it look appetizing to you? Not to me. It was all quite uninspiring. Being that usually an Asian theme would perk my interest immediately, it was quite disappointing.

I must say, at this point I am not feeling love for most of these contestants. Even the winning team is annoying - Betty is way too perky, Josie's smile is way too big, and Michael is just irritating to watch...messy and sloppy, without any of season 1 Miguel's talent. And there are still way too many people to keep track of. I want to fast-forward this season a few weeks so we can get rid of some people.

Bonus: Foods that make me want to hurl

When Mrs. Rushdie announced the Quick Challenge theme, Mia went to a corner to throw up at the mention of sushi. She did say she wasn't feeling well, but since the mention of sushi at any time perks up my appetite, her reaction was quite surprising. It did get me thinking about foods that the mere thought of make me want to go to a discreet corner and retch. Feel free to come up with your own list.

  • Hot andouille sausages. Cold andouille I can stand, but when it's hot that barnyard smell comes out in full force...and...
  • Raw tripe. That white rubbery honeycomb texture...
  • Rabbit. I can't stand the thought of eating bunny...
  • Overcooked mushy rice
  • Leftovers, after a few days
  • Eissbein (pig trotters in a gelatinous goo)
  • The smell of curry when I'm full. I hate Indian take-out leftovers for this reason, I can't throw them out fast enough.
  • Spilled kimchee juice on old apartment hallway carpet (don't ask...)
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