“Chopped,” “Diners, Drivers and Dives,” “Eat Street,” “Food(ography),” “Iron Chef,” “Unique Eats,” “United Tastes of America,” “Unwrapped,” “The Great Food Truck Race.” If they’re serving up something edible, I’m watching.
In fact, I’ve discovered that the crazier my schedule, the more stressed or overwhelmed I am, the hungrier I am for these morsels of comfort. At the moment, the DVR is working overtime to keep up, creating a nice batch of shows to tuck into as a special Friday-night treat.
There’s something nicely satisfying about witnessing the creativity and skill of different chefs, about learning the history of the things that bring us comfort. It’s exciting to see various meals come together so effortlessly (and someone else cleans up!).
I learn an awful lot about technique, but the viewing experience is more about escape than anything else.
Each of us in the house has a television-based pacifier. For Basil, it’s “Law & Order”; the original or SVU, it doesn’t matter. I think he has every script memorized.
Catherine goes for reality TV (especially “Jersey Shore”) and anything involving vampires. (And doesn’t understand why I don’t want to watch with her.)
(Are you rifling through your brain cells identifying your family’s guilty TV pleasures? Feel free to share them below.)
One night earlier this summer, as I flopped on the couch, bowl of ice cream in one hand, remote in the other, poised to punch in the Food Network call numbers, Basil asked if there wasn’t ANYTHING else to watch.
I’m sure there were plenty of other choices, but I had to have my fix. Guy Fieri might be headed to some new Greek diners. Mo Rocca might be devoting a show to chocolate. I couldn’t miss the secret life of pizza on “United Tastes of America” or a BBQ challenge in the South.
Ironically, despite a love of cooking, I don’t often attempt to make what I watch. Go figure.
I do have a suggestion for the Food Network folks, however: A home kitchen-based version of “Chopped” would be a much bigger challenge than the current show. Imagine host Ted Allen explaining the rules to a bunch of bewildered chefs dropped off in a typical suburban neighborhood anywhere in America:
Open the refrigerator. Your challenge is to make a three-course meal using a handful of limp spinach, leftover Chinese food, a half-jar of mint jelly, a bunch of scallions past their prime, two hot dogs, three chicken nuggets, stale white bread and an apple. Feel free to make use of the pantry if you can find anything left in it. You have 20 minutes before your starving family turns on you. Time starts NOW.