Monday, April 6, 2015

Food Is the New Rock and Roll

As you know, all I watch on television anymore is The Food Network. Where I’m pretty sure I would find depressing speculation about why a German pilot killed himself an 150-or-so others by pointing his plane at the Alps, I am diverted and fascinated by the sight of four prolifically tattooed sous chefs and line cooks trying to make a credible appetizer out of, for instance, Chilean sea bass jowls, musang king durian, potato chips, and pomegranate vinegar, as they do on the glorious Chopped.

But I worry about TFN, which some nights seems to stand for The [Guy] Fieri Network, as in the Sammy Hagaresque everydude who now stars not only in Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, wherein he samples scandalously rich eats of the sort blue collar workers in red states love, but also Guy’s Grocery Games, of which I have not yet been able to endure 30 seconds. I can’t stand the guy’s moronic, brayed dudespeak, or that he’s never met a 4500-calorie deep-fried pork-encrusted deep dish pizza baconburger that hasn’t inspired him to shake his head and marvel, “This is off the hook!

Always with the pimply hyperbole! Just once —once! — can’t he take a bite of something, look horrified, and spit it out? “Oh, man, dude,” I’d love for him to say, as he surely would, “this sucks!” If chefs are the new rock stars — as no one has suggested that they are — Guy Fieri is Grand Funk Railroad.

On 30-Minute Meals, Rachael Ray is looking strangely subdued, and maybe a little bit sullen, like a 15-year-old girl whose father has told her that if she doesn’t stop brutalizing her little brother, she won’t get to use the car to go ridin’ next Sunday, which is of course an Eddie Cochran reference, as “pimply hyperbole” was a Hard Day’s Night one.

Ted Allen
Ted Allen, who was the food and wine specialist on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy — which I never watched because I’m very sorry, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that gays naturally have better taste is what a Jew of a certain age might call a lox, almost certainly the insipidest man in television history, if you don’t count Anderson Cooper. And now they’ve got him on All-Star Academy too? Can someone — anyone! — explain this to me?

If food is the new rock and roll, Ted Allen is James Taylor, except without the pulse-pounding excitement. 

Wee Willie is on duh right.
I’ve also been watching Food Fortunes, an imitation of various imitations of the British Dragons Den, on which entrepreneurs try to talk a panel of rich sourpusses into investing in their often  preposterous businesses. Food Fortunes has added a couple of zany wrinkles. When the prospective investors are interested enough to make an offer, they make it in a separate session, rather than after the pitch. Edge-of-the-seat suspense! And they don’t actually tell the entrepreneur what they’re offering, but write their offers down on pieces of paper that they then slide across a table toward them in little Food Fortunes-branded folders. One can almost imagine Ted Allen having come up with these ideas!

The purported titans of the food industry include the founder of Planet Hollywood, at which no sane person has ever eaten, and which I thought had gone backrupt many years ago, and wee Willie Degel, a dese-‘n’-dose type from one of the Outer Boroughs who imagines himself wry for saying, “I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

Which is, as so many so love to say these days, so wrong on so many levels. First, what made the idea funny when Marlon Brando first mumbled it in The Godfather was that him or her to whom the offer was tendered had a choice between accepting the offer and being murdered. Worse, there is nothing less witty than something borrowed intact from a movie or television program. Worst, even less witty than that is something borrowed intact from a movie or television program that’s been part of the national, uh, discourse for 40 years.

A person who imagines it witty to speak of offers that can’t be refused probably wouldn’t wash his or her hands after using the restroom. Heed dis well, Willie.


  1. I miss Julia Childs all liquored up and in later years bickering over black vs. white pepper with Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan as well. Maybe that's all PBS of me, but they were entertaining and could put out a complete dinner.

    1. I used to be a very big Jacques Pepin fan, James. That was before cooking came to be seen as an athletic spectacle.

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