I’m fascinated by cooking shows. When we had cable there were 8,000 of them to choose from. Now I am limited to the 500 available on PBS. Well, maybe 500 is a bit of an exaggeration, but there are a LOT of them.
I’m watching Lidia’s Italy at the moment as I type, but sadly Emily has turned the volume down. Lidia’s just tossed off some kind of complicated dish involving a tubular type plant and a dessert that took her approximately 90 seconds to make. She’s now showcasing her final dish (I can’t hear what she’s saying) and is waving around a bottle of Chianti.
Lidia’s show is great because she’s a real woman. She isn’t one of those Barbie Doll female cooking show hosts who looks like she suffers from anorexia while cooking with low-fat items such as butter and heavy cream, not to mention truckloads of sugar. When Lidia takes a bite of her latest, delectable concoction, you know she really means it when she sighs and says, “delizioso.” My kind of woman.
I remember about 30 years ago, before cooking shows were as numerous as the sands on the seashore, watching a show called Yan Can Cook. I didn’t watch for the food, I watched because Yan was so entertaining. The man was so intense, so passionate, so full of the joy of life that I couldn’t change the channel as he flung eel, squid and other assorted sea life into pans, juggled knives, and performed exploits with rice all while making his audience laugh with his cooking jokes.
There are some bizarre cooking shows that feature things like modern day Vikings who boil the antlers of antelope for a special broth, or who try to convince us that moose tongue in lingonberry sauce is trending upwards in cool restaurants in North America. Too contrived. I can’t watch a cooking show where the cook is wearing a helmet with horns and a beard that looks like road kill is stuck on his face. (With apologies to my bearded Scandinavian forebears.)
Then there’s some hillbilly cooking show that features a cook from Missouri. I always watch that one suspiciously, because I’ve heard stories told by my mom about Ozark cooking of old. It involved opossum. I’m OK with cornbread, but opossum? No. (OK, I officially checked. Possum is slang. Opossum is the correct spelling and the plural is opposum. But in the Ozarks, it’s spelled “possum.” Just in case you wondered.)
I see now that Lidia’s Italy show is over. Some woman in a red sweater is frying what appear to be cheese curds in a huge pan. She’s pouring a thick substance that resembles chunky applesauce into the steaming mixture. Wait. Those are onions. I have to go. I really have to know what in the world she’s doing to those poor cheese curds. I frequently toy with the idea of trying out what I see on the screen at home. My family is no doubt thankful my cooking show inspiration usually stops short of reality.