What’s Cooking?

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.

8 thoughts on “What’s Cooking?

  1. carolynb says:

    If Yan can cook, you can cook! Or something like that. LOL!

    Love the Swedish Chef! Bork, bork, bork!!!

  2. Kimberly says:

    I’m a foodie who loves these shows. We have 35 people coming for Thanksgiving and I’m trying out some new things this year just to make something different.

  3. darlene says:

    The barefoot contessa and Paul Dean are my favorite shows. The only thing that I have made from either show is Paul’s Potato Shrimp Soup. It’s excellent.
    There is this skinny italian I stopped watching because of the way she dresses. I detest that low cut look on anyone. I think the shows on channel 10 are good. Right now I can’t think of the name of them.

  4. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    I like America’s Test Kitchen on PBS because they make a lot of things I’m familiar with. They were doing a show on baking cookies and gave some great tips I could actually use for making them great.

  5. Mary Simon says:

    Ingrid, America’s Test Kitchen is my favorite of all cooking shows on PBS. I’m not a great cook but I have bought their cook book of the first ten years of Test Kitchen and made some of the recipes. I love their spritz cookies and quick tomato sauce recipe.

  6. Lisa Green Kentala says:

    I love trying new recipes, but rarely watch cooking shows because they make me hungry! Once in a while I’ll watch, but usually lose interest because the recipes have too many ingredients and are unnecessarily complicated (Rachael Ray).
    My favorite is Paula Deen for comfort food – very fattening, but every recipe I’ve tried is delicious.
    Where we differ is many times I find the host’s personalities can be annoying – I just want the recipe – an overly colorful character gets in the way.

  7. julie says:

    Ingrid,your entry about cooking made me laugh. I feel the same way about some of the shows. Once I watched Lidia, whom I really do like usually, cook an octopus. I couldn’t turn it off, even though I really wanted to. But it was fascinating to think that she was actually going to eat the thing. I couldn’t imagine what it might smell like, but was glad for once that it was impossible for me to do so. the best part of the shows is that 1) it gets us into the kitchen and makes us better cooks and 2) they are a great deal more edifying than the other 99% of what is on tv these days.

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