I met Anna Olson!
This weekend I was helping out at the Cottage Life Show and very glad that I chose this day to come in .. namely because Anna Olson would come and give her expertise on what makes the best butter tart – everything from crust flakiness to ooziness of the filling.
I don’t particularly like butter tarts nor have I made one before, but I did learn how to crack an egg: instead of tapping it against the rim of a bowl, tap it on a flat surface – that way the breakage will be large enough for the egg to come off cleanly, and you’ll get two large halves without jagged edges. Plus, no tiny shards that will fall into your bowl. Now I know.
Standing five feet away, Anna is petite and sweet as she appears on TV. My sister and I are huge fans of Sugar, although it’s stopped running on the Food Network this season. Her short blond-brown hair tied back (ahem, something the everyman cook should be doing in the kitchen), she stops stirring the glass bowl to make eye contact with us, gesturing with her hands to make us understand how important it is to keep eggs at the same temperature as the butter. I like that about Anna – even though she’s cooking, she’s not a distracted cook that never looks at you when she’s explaining what she’s making. Then, she continues on, pouring the viscous golden-brown filling into the pale pastry shells lined inside her pan.
But in honesty, I am watching the screen where all the Anna-action is happening: the round lumps of brown sugar are getting mashed with her whisk as she works the eggs into the mixture for the filling. Did you know that when she is taping, she makes the same meal a few times? “It’s not because I did something wrong,” she says, “But there are actually multiple cameras in the kitchen to get all the different angles that we see on TV: one at stovetop level, one at eye level to get a head shot, one to view the whole kitchen ..”
Food TV is also very sensory. So, there are not only cameras to catch multiple views of the food, but capture multiple sounds. Did you know that there are cameras even in the fridge to catch the slight suction sound of a the door opening? Or that they amplify the sizzle of the pan when the onions hit the heat? TV magic!
“I also get asked a lot what happens to the food at the end of the show,” she tells us. They do eat the food, even though it’s usually cold by the end of the taping – or warmed if it was meant to be cold! And some of the remaining food gets send to food banks so nothing goes to waste. Good call.
In the end, her butter tart turned out partially gooey. “I’m a raisin girl,” she said when she took a poll from the audience of what we should add to the crust. After the crowd died down, I got a chance to go backstage and ask her to for an autograph. Sweeet!