Monday, July 27, 2009

What ever reality TV touches turns to shit.

I like to think that I'm an amateur cook.
I love food and I love the way people get when they eat something they really enjoy (most of the time this joy manifests as a food dance)
I mean the key to world peace is going to be food. No matter who you are everyone has a favorite food.
When someone talks about their favorite food anyone can relate to that kind of excitement it. I know that sometimes it's hard for me because I'm a vegetarian to really relate to everybody's tastes, but I guess that motivates me to introduce some people to what I eat.
I have my own points of view and reasons why I'm a vegetarian. Not that I'm passing judgment on those people who eat meat. It's just not for me.
Anyway before I lose my train thought...
I've always watched cooking shows from Julia Child and the Frugal Gourmet when I was young. I was fascinated with so many different ingredients coming together to make such delicious food. I loved the fact that food spoke out like a song or movie, every feeling was reflected with ingredients and ingenuity of the meal. Cooking was a canvas in which the Chef or Cook could convey their gastronomical master pieces that ranged from insanely expensive aged meats and cheeses to simple everyday snack foods.
You can taste the love.
Then the Gods blessed my mild obsession with a cable channel.
And God spoke and named the channel "Foodnetwork" and it was good.
Good, It was fucking Great.
I had never seen so many chefs so many different styles of cooking. I was over whelmed
Good Eats with Alton Brown is and will always be one of the defining moments when I truly wanted to learn how to cook. He melded rocket science with grill cheese sandwiches, revealing the secrets on what makes oil and eggs into mayonnaise and why a pan of water is so important for making the perfect cheesecakes.
I thought that is was Christmas all over. Then came "Everyday Italian" and "Barefoot Contessa" which made the camera a more personal element in cooking. Who knew the closer you filmed the food you were preparing the more appetizing it made it.
Now, I though that this could not get any better...but it did.
The greatest of cooking shows which I personally feel started a huge movement in modern cooking challenges was the one and only.
IRON CHEFS (Japanese)

This is the Pièce de résistance of all food shows. Yes it was kitschy and it had all the wonder and goofiness of any other Japanese game show, but this I felt, really put cooking as entertainment with out cheapening it.
Every night for at least 2yrs I wouldn't miss and episode.
All this over exposure to cooking and different cultural foods began to dominate me when I would go to the grocery store. I would pay up the ass for expensive olive oils or over priced wines thinking that this would make me, at least in a mental state, closer to these culinary Gods that I had sold my soul (as well as a lot of my free time) to.
The more and more I watched the more I realized that good ingredients don't have to be the most expensive. It was freshest and best quality that mattered.
So every weekend I would try a new dish. Home made sushi, Eggplant Parmesan, Sun dried tomato caprice salad sandwiches on home made baguettes, I wanted to cook as much as I could when I could.
The best thing, I realized was how happy I was when I cooked for someone (that's especially hard being an herb around a lot of carnies). I started to understand why some people love to cook. The joy and pride to feed someone literally sustaining some ones life not just with baser sustenance but a meal that you put love into (not that kind of love) was incredibly satisfying.
I know that with today's hustle and bustle lifestyle it's hard to sit down and cook a good meal. Especially when the chef is Boyardee and your hungry now!
It's sad that this ever growing society built on speed and instant gratification slowly loses the little things that makes life worth wild. Still there is always hope. Men try to show off their chops on the grill while many women had to deal with a tradition of being the official cook wether they liked it or not. I learned most of what i know from my mom.
Over the years cooking has grown in popularity. Now it's not unusual for people to recognize chef on TV. These culinary masters are now on par with celebrities.
Even the attitude of most chefs have changed. Well not really if you've ever worked in a restaurant kitchen you would see that tempers can flare when the dinner rush comes steamrolling in. I use to think it was about pompous stuffy gourmet chefs eating nothing less than foie gras and truffles every 20 minutes, adorn with medals like generals of the Zagat brigade.
Now there is, I wouldn't say though guy as much as no bullshit chefs. These guys are cultured, professional, and know exactly what to do when there calling the shots in their kitchen. They also don't take shit from any one.

Bourdain is the prime example of this no bullshit movement in the culinary world. I'm sure there are many more out there but Bourdain was the first I've ever heard of. "A cooks tour" was a breath of fresh air for the Food network. He seemed like the kind of guy who wasn't always going to try big restauranteurs' food and politely always give the same acknowledging nod and say how good it was. He's honest about food and those who bring some of the greatest dishes to life.
In "A Cooks Tour" (show not the book) I loved watching him reveal how most chefs who wouldn't compromise taste in any fashion eat your average junk every night after work. I'm sure the fatigue and cooking all night would make any one not want to see kitchen for at least week.
But Bourdain keeps the message simple and the menu even simpler as he goes globe trotting in search for that real hole in the wall that serves some of the best food any one has ever had. It's funny I'm practically kissing this guys ass and if he knew I was a vegetarian he'd probably tell me to fuck off. Yes, Anthony Bourdain is no lover of vegetarians even calling vegans "the hezbollah" of the veggie movement.
I personally thinks it's funny he's a great writer and chef. Photobucket
Then there is Gordon Ramsay...what can I say about Gordon Ramsay that hasn't already been said about the Atom bomb. Genius and none shall survive his wrath, want to talk about no bullshit chef...I believe that if bullshit like anti-matter came in contact with Ramsay he'll just explode which he often does... constantly... always.
Sometimes I think it's unfortunate for Ramsay. Most of the time he isn't allowed to show his skills in the Kitchen, he is however given free reign when it come to tearing a person a new asshole.
Unfortunately, this misappropriation of verbal beatings compared to cooking skill leaves an opening for an abomination that can only be found on TV.
Food Network has gone down the same road that so many mindless TV networks have gone down. It has been bitten with the reality TV bug.
It still has a bunch of good cooking shows and great chefs but slowly and this happens with almost every channel, it begins with one or two simple harmless reality contest shows like "Chopped" and "The Next Foodnetwork Stars" then it grows in to the contemporary obsession... humiliation and acts of public degradation. I mean Fox jumped that gun with "Hells Kitchen"(funny enough it stars Gordon Ramsay and Bravo has "Top Chef"
Reality television has become a zoo for the severely brain damaged. Every show exists to exhibit the human condition at it's most rediculous. There is a special place in hell for the producers of these shows. Hopefully it is and endless lollapalooza staring David Hasselhoff for all eternity followed by Sharon Osbourne greatest calls in "So you think have Hemorrhoids"

I guess it's that feeling of watching someone getting in trouble, standing by and saying "Shit, I'm glad that's not me."
I don't know what this unstoppable fetish is with watching others get shitted on. We're a nation with a sever case of Schadenfreude. Something about watching others suffer give so many the voyeur hard on and now it seems they're putting shit on my plate.
No thank you... I'll just make something when I get home.

1 comment:

  1. here here! reality tv sucks. we all know it. and yet so many subscribe to watching it... living their lives around it even. people have emotional connections to these fake "real" people and it's just plain sad. i can get in to watching clips from them on the soup, but sheerly for the comical value of it all.

    and as for cooking, you're a great cook and perhaps someday an even greater chef! you should put yourself in the kitchen more often.. and make me a sandwich!

    heh.. kidding. although you make good sandwiches. :)