In one of our most predictable moments of all time, we're going to confess to you that the Inauguration 2013 coverage we were most excited about was the menu for the epic luncheon. However, in a classic TV moment that makes crystal clear just how much more we care about food than most people, MSNBC talking head Chris Matthews let loose a little gripe about culinary flourishes.
"Has anyone ever picked a restaurant because of its reductions?" Matthews quipped, sarcastically. "Every time I see one on the menu I say, 'What is that, and why do I care?' What is a reduction??"
The fit of giggles we collapsed into was only rivaled by his co-host, Rachel Maddow's, who is a notorious and lovable food and cocktail nerd (seriously, watch her make a Jack Rose cocktail and you'll totally understand why we love her). And we would like to take a moment to recognize and seriously applaud commentator Chris Hayes' attempt to explain what a reduction is, and why you wouldn't just call it a "sauce." You're fighting the good fight, Chris Hayes.
Chris Matthews, we'd like to thank you for inadvertently creating one of our favorite TV moments of all time, but seriously, you're welcome to come by for a cooking lesson any time. We'll start with reductions. Then you can start complaining about emulsions and espumes.
Once you get the hang of those, we'll tackle the Inaugural Luncheon menu, which the White House helpfully posted all the recipes for (we can't even tell you how much we want to recreate this).
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Smell For A Change In Aroma
Whether you're sauteing garlic or onion or toasting nuts or spices, you must smell for a change in aroma. As soon as you smell the difference, it's time to move onto the next step in the recipe. When it comes to smelling burning, the recipe is pretty much toast.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jackson3/3750175310/" target="_hplink">Steven Jackson Photography, Flickr</a>.
Look For A Change In Appearance
When cooking, make sure to add your oil to a hot pan and wait to see that it shimmers. Don't add food to a pan with cold oil because it won't sear or fry properly.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/22179048@N05/5195118392/" target="_hplink">BobPetUK, Flickr</a>.
Feel For Doneness
The best way to check fish and meat for doneness is to feel it with your finger: it's mushy if it's rare, slightly resistant when it's medium, and hard if it's well done. This also works for vegetables (test with the tip of a knife) but in the opposite way: it's overcooked if it's mushy, hard if it's raw and slightly resistant when it's perfectly cooked.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chefmaggio/5731822151/" target="_hplink">Maggio7, Flickr</a>.
Look For A Change In Color
When a recipe starts with sauteing onions, you want to make sure the onions change color from translucent to opaque before you move onto the next step. This also goes for sauteing fish or shrimp. And when you're browning meat for stew, you want to make sure the meat is actually brown before proceeding.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oh_darling/6603889153/" target="_hplink">ohsarahrose, Flickr</a>.
Smell For Freshness
You've probably heard this before, but it's very important to smell fish and seafood for freshness. If it smells like the sea it's fresh, but if it smells fishy it's not worth buying or cooking.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreagp/1122613434/" target="_hplink">Andrea Pokrzywinski, Flickr</a>.
Look For Bubbles
When boiling it's really important to wait until the water is at a roaring boil with large bubbles before adding pasta, vegetables, etc. The worst thing you can do is add pasta to a simmering pot of water -- you'll end up with a gummy texture.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/notahipster/3027162977/" target="_hplink">little blue hen, Flickr</a>.
Listen For A Change In Sound
Most people don't think to use their ears, but they can help a lot during cooking. When you're searing or frying meat or vegetables, the sound will change from a sharp sizzle to a mellow hum as the food cooks -- then you know it's ready to flip or remove because the moisture has cooked off.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarale/6689019875/" target="_hplink">tarale, Flickr</a>.
Look For Doneness
Sometimes when you can't use your touch to check for doneness, but you can use your eyes and a knife as an extension of your hand. For example, to check a roasting chicken for doneness, insert a knife's tip in between the thigh and the breast -- if the juices run clear, the chicken is done.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinnerseries/6831887615/" target="_hplink">Dinner Series, Flickr</a>.
Taste For Flavor
Tasting during cooking is probably the most important use of your senses. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNym1wnDd2Y" target="_hplink">Some chefs say to taste at least three times</a>: toward the beginning, the middle and near the end of cooking. Tasting is important because you can adjust the food's seasoning to ensure its flavor is where you want it before serving. You can't expect food to taste good if you don't taste it.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rueful/5697846897/" target="_hplink">breahn, Flickr</a>.
Feel For Texture
Most people are afraid to touch food when they're cooking, namely raw meat, but your hands can help you immensely. When working with dough or mixing up ground meat for meatballs, you can feel if the mixture is too dry or too wet so you know to remedy the issue before moving on.<br> <br> Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventurespf/3274671073/" target="_hplink">Adventures of Pam & Frank, Flickr</a>.
WATCH: Cooking With Your Five Senses