My Favorites (in no particular order) are:
No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
And once in a while I watch Top Chefs
Recently, there was a bit of a fuss when Anthony Bourdain called Paula Deen "the worst cook on Food Network" He also lumped Rachel Ray in that group. (I personally find Ray irritating, so I don't watch her show. People that perky annoy the hell out of me!)
Now, we all love Paula. She is the epitome of the sweet southern lady. But if you ate her cooking every day, you'd have a build up of butter and mayo in your arteries! I watched her show one time and she made a salad...nice healthy salad...then she dressed it with vinegar mixed with some sugar and bacon grease!
Paula makes what is considered *down home Southern cookin'*. I think I could eat one of her meals maybe once every two weeks, but I'd have to fast until the next one!
So, I could understand Bourdain's objections to Paula's cooking.
No Reservations shows Bourdain and a friend or two wandering around some exotic locale (okay, exotic for me) eating, drinking, wandering some more, chowing down on street food, checking out 4 and 5 star restaurants and getting a bit drunk. All accompanied by Anthonys' sardonic and insightful voice over monologues. I enjoy the show because it shows the inner workings of restaurants, exotic locales, foods I never heard of (some of which I eventually hunt down and try to prepare myself) and because Bourdain is so freakin' funny. His acerbic wit is entertaining Also entertaining is the alarming regularity of his adventure making a sudden left turn into territory he never considered possible. (Such as when he was dragged in to a karaoke bar in Korea) Here's an example of his show...when he wrecked an ATV:
Similarly, Bizarre Foods shows the host eating some truly strange foods in exotic locales. I confess that I mainly watch this for the EWWWWWWWWWWWWW factor. Some of the foods I would probably try--- kangaroo tail, alligator sausage, stuff like that. But roasted tarantula? Nope! Andrew also gets into some strange situations...I remember him having some *healing ritual* performed on him in South America somewhere, the *shaman* ended up taking a mouthful of rum and spraying it onto Andrew after lighting it on fire! Here's an ewwwwwwwww moment from his show:
I like Chopped, because that is what most of us face every night.
We look in the fridge and the cabinets and try to figure out what to fix for dinner. The week before payday can be especially challenging!
"Let's see...I have two apples, some leftover mashed potatoes, some celery and two chicken breasts to feed four people...hmmmmm"
It's fun watching them race around with a time constraint as well. Most people that are fixing dinner for their families do not have the luxury of taking 2 or 3 hours to spend in the kitchen with a hungry batch of kids waiting!
It seems that people are paying much more attention to what they are eating.
That is a Good Thing.
People are finding out that they enjoy eating less processed foods, more *honest* foods and that they like cooking for themselves.
Another Good Thing.
A lot of folks call themselves *Foodies* and proclaim they "know" what is good food and what most people eat is Not Good.
So, Food Snobbery raises it's perfectly coiffed head.
"Oh, you ate at Wolfgang Pucks restaurant when you went to Disneyland?" *sniff* "You really should have gone to *insert trendy pop up restaurant name here*. It's on the bad side of L.A, I know, but the food is so organic/honest/peasant it is fabulous. Puck is so passe!"
Look, you fix/grow/butcher/buy what you like. Maybe you adore mac and cheese from the box because it reminds you of what your mom made when you were little. That's okay! (Personally, I have a soft spot for orange Creamsicles)
I try to fix healthy, good tasting food for my family. Because I am responsible for cooking their meals, I watch out for fat, salt and other things we all need to be careful of. I avoid overly processed foods not because I am a food snob, but because they are so expensive, and to me, taste kinda *chemical*.
I bake bread not because I am enthralled by *artisan bread*, but because I know what the additives are in commercially produced breads. (That's a whole 'nother post...with lots of ewwwww factor!)
I think everyone should love to cook, but I know that is not the case. When you do cook, whether you like to or not, cook with love and that will be felt.