I enjoy cooking. When I was little, I always loved watching what few cooking shows there were on TV (you remember “Wok With Yan”, don’t you? Yeah, that was about it.). So when The Food Network came along, I felt like I’d gone to heaven.
Out of The Food Network grew a culture of foodie-ism. And that’s a trend I hope will die soon. Because foodie-ism gave birth to reality cooking shows, which I do not enjoy. How did Mark Burnett come to take over The Food Network?!
I long for the days of interesting and inspiring cooking shows where one could learn to – imagine this – cook! Chefs would teach you about ingredients and techniques instead of hoping to win $10,000 or have their name published in the Insiders’ Report. And then the washed up celebrities had to get a piece of the action, too, with this “Rachel vs Guy Celebrity Cook-Off” show, as if “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Dancing With The Stars” weren’t enough.
With the flexibility I have now with work, I am sometimes able to catch a mid-day show on The Food Network while I’m having lunch. This is where I score. All the true “cooking” shows are on during the morning and mid-day (is this because the “housewives” are home and the station figures they need to learn to cook?!). Thank goodness for Jamie Oliver’s “15-Minute Meals”. All Jamie wants to do is show you how to cook specific dishes, in a practical and more healthful way – brilliant! It doesn’t hurt that he has no pretensions like many other celebrity chefs do. It’s clear that he loves food, he loves cooking and most importantly, he doesn’t like to fuss.
I also am a huge fan of Lidia Bastianich, whom I now watch on some weeknights on Tele-Latino (TLN). I love how she loves food! Her passion shines through when she’s preparing and eating her food. You don’t see this kind of love in the eyes of the chefs competing on “Chopped”, “Top Chef” or “Sweet Genius”; all you see there is stress, and that’s not what I want to associate with food and cooking. Another great time to watch true cooking shows is on Saturday mid-morning thru to early afternoon on PBS. I’m not usually home then, but it’s a guilty pleasure when I actually get an hour to catch something here. Lidia’s shows can also be seen then, as well as Julia Child, America’s Test Kitchen and Martha Stewart – true originals.
Pretension has taken the fun away from food. Food bloggers, food porn, spout-to-tail dining, molecular gastronomy, reality cooking shows, the insistence that you are not a foodie if you haven’t eaten kale or quinoa… in my opinion, these are all things that have bred pretension in the food business and have taken the attention away from what should be at the heart of food: it should be fun, fulfilling, convivial and full of love. Maybe I’m just old and not keeping up with the times, but I’m ready for today’s foodie-ism to end.