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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cooking Shows that Have Crappy Food

I like food shows. If you know me, you know I like food in general. I married a wonderful cook and we both enjoy the output of the food network. We both think Iron Chef jumped the shark when they started dubbing The Chairman instead of just subtitling him. It added so much mystery!

I went as the Chairman one year for Halloween. I had to explain it soooo many times..."No, I'm not Elton John."

And it's not just the modern cable cooking shows that I have enjoyed. I used to watch the Urban Peasant on CBC in the '90's. He taught me the secret to drying lettuce. Put your lettuce in a towel, grab all four corners, and windmill your arm. Voila! Dry lettuce! (Of course, you would think a math major would realize that the water just did not evaporate and it had to go somewhere. Mom was not thrilled when I demonstrated this in the kitchen.) And the Julia Child & Jacques Pepin reruns were always a treat.

Water on the floor? That's what the PAs are for!

The idea, embodied in almost every cooking show, is this: Cooking is not alchemy. It is fun and easy. You don't have to settle for Chef Boyardee. You don't have to live in Paris or Rome. You can cook delicious, wonderful food. Look, it's easy! Julia Child didn't have a food processor, and she could cook 18 course meals in an hour!

Of course, it's not as easy as the cooking shows make it look. You don't have a magic oven in your house that has precooked the meal before the show. And, sorry Julia, I'm not deboning a duck anytime soon.

Still, even if you can't always make delicious, wonderful homemade meals, you could at least watch the food porn while you ate your Domino's pizza.

So, it's a little disheartening that Food Network is turning more and more to what my wife calls "mess-ipies."

You mix the beat like you mix the food, I'm guessing. 

Nothing against comfort foods, or bar food, or fast food. God knows they all serve a purpose. But why are you dedicating so much of your programming time on how to make crap? Where is the art?

Look, I don't need people to tell me how to make a grilled cheese. You can make one with a hot iron. 30 Minute Meals sounds like a great concept, until you get to the actual recipies.


  • 8 slices bacon


Place 2 sheets of paper towel on a microwave safe plate, lay the bacon out on the paper towel not overlapping the slices. Place 2 more sheets of paper towel on top. Place in the microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes.
That's a recipie for Late Night Bacon. And that is the whole recipe. If, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, bacon is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, then microwave bacon is proof of the existence of the anti-christ. It is flat out terrible. It's not hard to cook bacon. Take fry pan. Add bacon. Fry till it reaches desired crispiness. How can a person become a multimillionaire by telling us to save a precious minute of our time by nuking bacon?

Or how about the Mac & Cheese Dog Casserole? Basically an upscale version of the recipie a five year old thinks up. "Mommy, can we put some hot dogs in the Kraft Mac & Cheese?"

But it's hard to beat "Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee" for pure crapitude. You can find plenty of web hate for this perky chef, but for pure smackdown you have to turn to Anthony Bourdain:
Pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. She Must Be Stopped. Her death-dealing can-opening ways will cut a swath of destruction through the world if not contained. I would likely be arrested if I suggested on television that any children watching should promptly go to a wooded area with a gun and harm themselves. What’s the difference between that and Sandra suggesting we fill our mouths with Ritz Crackers, jam a can of Cheez Wiz in after and press hard? None that I can see.
Or you can turn to some of the reactions to her recipes:
On Sandra’s Halibut Tacos with Fish Salsa
“I must admit I would never have thought of serving fish with allspice and taco seasoning and salsa and cole slaw and peaches. But there’s a good reason for that: this is disgusting.” -Anonymous
On Sandra’s Stained Glass Wreath Cookies
“Give me a break. This is not Sandra Lee’s anything. This has been done for years and years. It shouldn’t be one of Food Networks 12 featured holiday cookie recipes. It’s not a cookie recipe, it’s a chilcren’s craft project. Anyone who jams a piece of candy onto a pre-made cookie dough and puts it in the oven does not get to say they baked a new recipe. I can promise you that Sandra Lee isn’t decorating her tree with these or allowing her chefs, caterers or whoever actually prepares food in her house to serve them to any of her guests.” -Shel
On Sandra’s Grilled Trout Ciabatta
“It didn’t even taste right. the combination of the ingredients were a really bad idea. I’m sorry but that was like the worse thing i have ever eaten! I can never eat trout again!” -Anonymous
On Sandra’s No-Bake Fruit and Cheesecake Parfaits
“Me and my kids made this desert this afternoon and it was a mess. Nothing set and it smelled so bad my daughter got the dry heaves. I didn’t have no melk to make this desert, so I used powdered instead and that made it even worse. This is not a good recipe for poor people. ” -Anonymous
Okay, the last one is probably stupidity and the messipe. It's probably the dry milk that gave ANYONE dry heaves- not good to use in anything.
It's likely that her influence will only grow. Sandra Lee is now the Semi-First Lady of New York, being the longtime girlfriend of Governor Anthony Cuomo. I can hardly wait for the Semi-Homemade School Lunch program she could design!

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