Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Is the Food Network hindering our desire to cook?

Today on La Vida Localvore Jill Richardson discusses an assertion made by Michael Pollan that watching cooking shows on TV may be part of causing the opposite reaction than we would think.

Like Richardson, I was a little surprised by this idea that people who watch the Food Network aren't actually cooking. I remember very well a recent Thanksgiving where the Blessing was said and then immediately after the "amen" I pointed out that the prayer was missing an important Thank You to the Food Network for without their programming much of the bounty on our table would not be possible. I got a good laugh out of the family for that joke, but it was really the honest truth. I personally had made one dish derived from a recipe I saw on Food Network and one of my mother's crown jewels in the annual feast is Rachel Ray's Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish. That particular soup has jockeyed to the top of the Favorites list. I've even negotiated a favorite dessert omission just so we could keep the soup in one year when Mom said she had too much to make and threatened to take it out!

In my own life, I watch food oriented shows sparingly. This is not to say that I don't enjoy them. I enjoy them immensly. I most especially enjoy the PBS foodie programming. PBS is where I first met Michael Chiarello and Lidia Bastianich, two chefs from whom I have learned a great deal. Those shows specifically presented recipes that made me want to run right out and get the ingredients to cook that meal for dinner That Day. And as much as I would like to be able to say "oh, he's talking about the reality competition type shows, " even they serve as stimulating inspiration, or a provocation for research into new ingredients, tools, and techniques.

But time has slipped away from me as well. And I do understand Pollan's point that today's families just don't seem to think they have the kind of time to cook that their parents may have had. However, I find that instead of running to fast food or packaged frozen foods on a daily basis, I enjoy the challenge this time issue presents. Some days I do succumb to the spell of the frozen pizza, but most days I am able to throw together something interesting with little active cooking time, lots of taste, and that is Healthy. I have found that the lack of time issue has presented me with an interesting food puzzle. And interestingly enough, I know I am eating cheaper by home cooking, than I am by going the convenience route.


Melanie said...

I'm with you! I think cooking shows do encourage people to cook on their own. We're trying to save money by not eating out as much and i think it really helps. I like the PBS shows a lot too (I watched The Frugal Gourmet as kid religiously with my mom). I'm hoping they put Lidia's show back on KERA this fall. Did I tell you I got to meet her last summer? She and her son were at the Central Market on Lovers Lane and she signed my cookbook and I got a picture of her holding Rachel. Oh, and as for inspiration, Joshua and I watched an episode on sushi one afternoon on Good Eats and after i got all the tools and ingredients about a week later, he made us sushi! He did a really good job! And i never would have thought to make it on our own.

Maggie ~:) said...

No I didn't know that you got to meet Lidia!! I'm jealous! If I had known she was here I would totally have gone. She's one of the few chefs I really admire because of her homecooking and no nonsense manner.

I was surprised at how simple making sushi was as well! The hardest part was getting sushi grade ingredients. And cutting the fish properly. But at home, who cares if you got the cut a little wrong, right?