The Food Network and me

I’ve been in America three weeks and one day now and I think it’s safe to say my favourite thing about living here so far is The Food Network. I didn’t have hundreds of channels back home so I don’t know if there’s a UK/Ireland equivalent, but there blimmin’ well should be.

I could watch cookery shows all day. When I’m hungover (let’s round that up to every Sunday) Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me used to be my only source of comfort. The concept is simple: five strangers, who consider themselves excellent cooks, each host their idea of the perfect three-course dinner party. Afterwards they’re rated by their guests. It doesn’t sound that amazing, but it’s the televisual equivalent of a cuddle, believe me.

Since there’s no CDWM over here (although I have found a way to watch it online), I’ve been turning to The Food Network for all my cookery porn needs. Let me tell you it doesn’t disappoint. Right now, Thanksgiving is a mere two days away so the number of turkeys I watch being cooked on an hourly basis has reached the hundreds. I’m actually pretty confident I could lay on an amazing Thanksgiving feast at this point, if I had important things like a vegetable peeler.

The following are the four shows I’ve been watching most on The Food Network, although that’s not to say I enjoy them all.

Paula’s Best Dishes

This is Paula Deen, y’all (I’m not taking the piss, that’s how she talks. You’ll have to get used to it if you want to watch The Food Network.) Paula, it seems, is an American institution. She’s your typical Southern belle; a proud momma, she cooks stuff like corn bread and she’s having a very intimate love affair with lard. Paula makes no apologies for the amount of butter she puts in her food. One time, I’m not sure what she was cooking, a salad probably, she said the recipe called for one stick of butter but she always likes to add two. That’s right, she loves to double her butter. As an outsider looking in, I have no idea how people can eat the food she cooks. Slabs of butter aside, she uses cans of soup as ingredients. How can I explain? Okay, one day she was making a leftover turkey pot pie (see the Thanksgiving theme?) and to her chopped turkey and veggies she added TWO cans of condensed chicken soup and TWO cans of cream of cheddar soup, whatever the hell that is. It looked like vomit. I’m still not sure how I feel about Paula, but I’m ready to wave her goodbye because the woman is going to have a heart attack live on TV one of these days.

Giada’s Everyday Italian

Now this pretty little thing is Giada de Laurentiis. Isn’t she gorgeous? As you probably guessed from her name and tomato shower above, Giada is Italian. If you weren’t entirely sure before watching her show, she says Italian words in a VERY pronounced Italian accent (eg pancetta becomes pan-chay-tah and bolognese is bol-o-nee-yays-eh) just to make sure we don’t forget where she comes from. Giada’s show is okay, and she knows what she’s doing in the kitchen, but I find it hard to believe she eats anything. I like my chefs to look like they enjoy their food, ya know? Like Nigella. Still, her recipes seem okay and unlikely to result in an on-the-spot coronary like Paula’s.

Down Home With The Neelys

I’m not being a bitch okay, but the Neelys are on my hit list. Look at their faces. Everything about them is annoying. I’m sure Pat and Gina are perfectly nice people, but when they come together, and start cooking, my blood pressure rises. Pat (hilarious!) refers to Gina as “the spice fairy” because she puts, I don’t know, pepper on stuff while Gina is forever banging on about her precious flour and sugar pots which are (hold your sides!) in the shape of pigs. The pair of them really grind my gears with their “recipe remixes” too. Dear The Neelys, deep frying potatoes before making a potato salad is not a recipe remix, it’s just a sneaky way to eat fried potatoes. Gah!

Barefoot Contessa

This is Ina Garten and she’s better known as the Barefoot Contessa. It took me a while to figure out exactly why but it turns out she used to own a food store of the same name back in the 70s and she’s actually very famous. I like Ina. Look at here there in her shirt. She seems mumsy, doesn’t she? I’d actually like a hug from her, after sitting down to a seven-course feed first, of course. The dishes she cooks are simple and uncomplicated, and she once made these amazing chocolate truffles that were hard on the outside and soft on the inside. I think that was the day she stole my heart. Adopt me, Ina!

On a related note, does anyone else pretend they’re on a TV show when they cook? Go on, be honest.