Food for thought

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of shows on the Food Network. As I looked up a recipe I saw prepared on TV today, I was struck by this marvelous synthesis of cooking and the media.

Years ago, people tuned in to PBS to watch Galloping Gourmet and Julia Child create dishes. Viewers hunched before their TV sets, pen and paper in hand, and scrambled to write down recipes as they viewed the shows. If you were a bit slow on the draw and didn’t get all the ingredients or steps on paper (or on videotape in later years), the week’s recipes could usually be had for the cost of a SASE. But what if you wanted the recipe for a dinner you planned for the coming weekend?

Enter the Internet.

Just think of how it has revolutionized even just this one area I’m talking about here, cooking. I’ve been online since 1993 and am still amazed at the way we can now do a quick Google and find just about any information we need, instantly. Who did Jennifer Aniston marry? No problem! Do you use 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup olive oil in that recipe? No problem! What shoe size did George Washington’s top aide wear? Okay, maybe a problem. Maybe.

So anyway, this wonderous amalgam of food, TV, books and the Internet has me enjoying the kitchen more lately. I’m doubly motivated to find new recipes, partly because I love finding foods that offer a high flavor payoff for their fat and calorie contents. I feel really blessed, too, because our kitchen renovation made it an inviting and functional place. I actually enjoy being in there now, plus I’m not so reluctant to dirty pots and pans now that we have an automatic dishwasher. It is fun to entertain again, too, and I don’t dread the clean-up any more.

FoodTV has fueled this cookfire. Some of my favorites right now:

  • Paula Deen’s Paula’s Home Cooking. Though most of her recipes are ones I’d have to reserve for our treat days, I love her southern warmth and homestyle cooking. She also has a wonderful story – kudos to you, Miss Paula!
  • Alton Brown’s show, Good Eats, is a staple in our household. Alton’s background is in cinematography and directing, so it’s no stretch for him to make a cooking show that’s both informative and highly entertaining. Many of his shows contain movie spoofs and other nods to pop culture, great fun.
  • Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals is another favorite. She’s so cute and perky (I bet she gets tired of being described as that). It tickles us how she really enjoys food – She’s not shy about groaning with pleasure after taking a bite of something tasty. That’s our kind of girl! We like her other shows, including $40 a Day, where she shows you the best places to eat well AND cheap in various locales. Her new show, Inside Dish, features casual and intimate one-on-one interviews with celebrities. It’s not heavy stuff of course, but it’s interesting. Sometimes they cook together as they talk, and sometimes they just dine together out somewhere.
  • Bam! I can’t leave out Emeril, of course. He’s one of the guys who really popularized the new wave of cooking shows, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy.
  • One show which, though it doesn’t inspire me, exactly, does entertain me: Iron Chef. If it wasn’t for that show, I never would have known about Squid Ink Ice Cream, after all (urp :P) I kid you not. A great 2001 write up about Iron Chef can be read here. There’s Iron Chef America now, with commentary by Alton Brown. The secret ingredients on it are a little more tame, like lobster and buffalo. And you can’t help but be tickled by how Mark Dacascos he calls out “Wolfgang PUCK! BobbyFLAY! Mario BaTALi!” It’s all the pagentry of the original, with food that doesn’t turn our collective American stomach.

    There are more, but time does not allow. Funny, but our dogs have this inner timeclock thing going on and around 9:00pm they get restless for — what else — food. It’s time for nighty bities, yo!

  • 4 thoughts on “Food for thought

    1. We love all of those shows also! There have been many recipes that Kevin has printed off from the Food Network’s website. It does make things so much easier.

      We also love the show Unwrapped. I know they don’t cook on there, but we love seeing the behind the scenes stuff.

    2. “Unwrapped” is fun, too, yes! It’s fascinating to see the large-scale packaging of different foods like that, and to learn their histories. We also like “The Best Of…” Anymore, we seldom watch Network TV. There are a few shows we like, but we don’t watch them regularly. There’s just so many cool things on FoodTV and the other cable channels!

    3. I agree. The internet has totally saved my life food wise. I thought that eating good food was a thing of the past when I got put on sodium restriction. Surprisingly, I have found alot of really good low sodium and low-fat recipes.
      I frequent
      and the Quaker Oatmeal site just to name a few. As for the shows, I don’t get into alot of them because they tend to make weird things that I would never ever eat, but I do enjoy watching Unwrapped. I am fascinated by how things are made. I watched the “Fried foods” one the other day. Good grief,.. kinda made me not crave a fried food and that is definitely a good thing~

    4. I missed that episode, Heather. Did they show any fried chicken heads? LOL! My mother-in-law just piles on the salt…Wish I could help her to try different alternatives, but she wants her salt.

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