Cooking Crush 1×02 Review: “Fried Pork Toast That Makes You Smile”

Things are moving right along for our culinary and med students in “Fried Pork Toast That Makes You Smile” as both relationships develop at a speed that is only mildly alarming and Prem finally agrees to teach Ten how to cook.

OK, perhaps “mildly alarming” is a bit of a stretch, at least when it comes to Ten and Prem. Their relationship is moving along as expected. There are enough little moments peppered throughout the episode, particularly when they’re texting each other, that show you where they are in their feelings right now. Essentially, I think they’re both interested but not wanting to be too obvious about it. And I think what they like about each other is, at the moment, food related.

Ten likes Prem primarily because his cooking reminds him of – I assume – happier times. We still don’t know who Ten’s mystery woman is, but I’m beginning to suspect it’s his mother. In the initial flashback of young Ten at Prem’s family restaurant, there are multiple people with him, likely his parents. But now he’s only with his father, no sign of his mother, and he’s angry at his father about something. Driving his mother away, perhaps?

Of course, I do think that Ten finds Prem attractive, based on the fact that he was stalking his social media and zooming in on his pictures. (And y’all, that was a fabulous picture of Gun. I’d like it a thousand times, too.) He also debated with himself about adding “good night” to one of his messages. (Probably a translation thing. There was a similar moment in episode 3 of Last Twilight, and I think it’s meant to be like the difference between something like “good night” and “sweet dreams”.) 

But right now they don’t know that much about each other, so I’m hoping that the cooking lessons and the text exchanges give them the chance to talk about things other than cooking – or that they lead to the two of them spending time doing other things together.

On Prem’s side, I think he likes Ten because Ten likes his cooking. Cooking is very important to Prem, and from the way he talks about it, you can tell that it’s really a big deal to him when people enjoy his cooking. Cooking is an expression of himself – he said in last week’s episode that he put his heart and soul into his dish – so people liking his cooking means they’re accepting him as a person.

There is, I think, attraction on Prem’s side as well, because he is obviously jealous of Ten’s mystery woman after finding a picture of her on his social media. And his friends were teasing him about the whole situation. Prem I think is a little further behind, because he only agreed to teach Ten to cook to recover the 50,000 baht that his sister lost and needs for her school fees.

Prem’s reaction to Ten showing up all fancy at the fresh market can go one of two ways. One, he is blown away by how good Ten looks. Two, he is wondering what the heck is this dude doing, showing up to a fresh market in nice clothes. Honestly, my money is on two. (White shoes???)

We didn’t spend much time on the actual cooking lesson, considering that’s the whole premise of the show. It’s like, I’m gonna chop vegetables aaaaaand done! However, we do learn during the lesson a) Prem’s philosophy about needing to be happy when you cook, which I’m sure will be a thing later in the series (can you taste the sadness?? has anyone seen Simply Irresistible with Sarah Michelle Gellar?) and b) that Ten has an aversion to touch, which you could be forgiven for not realizing, considering how he draped himself over Prem’s back last week. (Of course, he initiated those touches, so he has more control over them, as opposed to someone approaching him randomly.)

In regards to Ten’s touch aversion, I appreciate that Prem was immediately apologetic for unintentionally causing him distress. You can see in Prem’s interactions with his sister and grandmother that he is a very tactile person normally, so it didn’t occur to him that someone might not like that. I also appreciate that Ten was like, no, it’s cool, this is my issue to deal with, please don’t change your behavior.

Also, they both seem to have realized the childhood connection quite early, which I was not expecting. (Normally that is something that doesn’t get acknowledged for a while.) Not only that, they both just so happen to have a photo of that moment they met when they were kids. It makes me wonder if there’s something more to it than what we’ve already seen. At the same time, I kind of like how they aren’t making a big deal about the childhood connection.

And I’m going to mention, because I can’t not – I love how petty Prem is. I don’t necessarily blame him for thinking Ten is stalking him, showing up at his restaurant like that. So him purposely cooking badly to get Ten to go away is kind of hilarious, and so was Ten’s reaction fantasy.

But I love how he’s like, “see, I told you I can’t cook,” and Ten is like, “don’t be like that, I know you can”, because I think Prem’s confidence in his skills is going to be a thing. He’s derided at school for being last in the class, and in the extended version of last week’s episode, there’s a scene where he makes the Tom Kha Gai for his family and they pretend it’s terrible. So it’s important to me that while Prem may not have faith in himself, Ten does. Because we love a couple that builds each other up.

Side note: Is there a specific reason why Ten is sleeping with a metronome? That’s an odd thing to do, in the US at least.

Now, I am surprised at how quickly we’re moving with Fire and Dynamite. (That’s what I was mildly alarmed about.) After tricking him last week, Dynamite does get Jane’s real contact info for Fire, and he immediately schedules a date… that Dynamite crashes. Repeatedly. And makes faces at him. Is this supposed to be endearing? Because it’s really weird and off-putting.

Unfortunately, it seems to be working, which is just baffling. This is what I’m talking about with the pacing. Fire confronts Dynamite while on his date and tells him to stay away (and we’ve got our first kabedon already), and Dynamite has a parting shot where he says that it doesn’t matter if he leaves because Fire will be thinking about him anyway… and then he does. And I think it’s way too soon in their relationship for Fire to be fondly thinking about Dynamite while he’s still on his date with Jane. I think Dynamite should do something not obnoxious and kind of stalker-y before Fire has those kind of thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong – I do like their dynamic. Their interactions last week were great. I was even OK with Dynamite giving Fire his own number instead of Jane’s. (I mean, if you ask someone who clearly likes you to get someone else’s phone number for you because you’re too chicken to do it, you sort of deserve it.) And the scene on the tennis court at the beginning of the episode, where Dynamite pretended to be hurt so Fire would look at him, was also kind of cute. But the stalking on the date and the weird faces were over the top.

Speaking of Fire, we saw bits of it last week, but “Fried Pork Toast That Makes You Smile” really shows you the dichotomy between his two lives – home and school. His mother is clearly overbearing and so he diminishes himself when he’s at home; he speaks in a meek tone of voice, being overly respectful in his speech. He can’t be honest with her about who he’s talking to and what he’s doing (at least in regards to Jane, which makes me think his mother has a rule that he’s not allowed to date).

But then with his friends (and Dynamite), he’s extremely loud and vibrant and a little foul-mouthed. I believe we’re meant to infer that whatever he is trying to start with Jane won’t work out because he isn’t being himself around her the way he is around Dynamite.

While Cooking Crush might not be doing anything groundbreaking, and I do wish that Off and Gun had done something a little more mature, I am highly enjoying this show so far. I like seeing Off play a character that’s not a complete douchebag. And my anxiety actually likes that it’s predictable and safe. I’m totally OK with that; I just want to watch these guys be goofy and in love. This is my feel-good show at the end of the week.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.


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