Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Why I Like Cooking Shows

Long before there was a Food Network, before I ever subscribed to cable service, I loved to watch cooking shows. On Saturdays I could usually count on PBS to string together a few consecutive hours of cooking shows. Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine, the grande dame of the kitchen, Julia Child, Jeff Smith and Rick Bayless, cooking secrets of the Culinary Institute of America. I even loved when PBS invited viewers to come in and demonstrate their favorite recipes during pledge week. So what’s the big attraction? It’s so very personal. There they are with their faux home setting; how many years did I think that was the cook’s actual kitchen? Looking directly into the camera, right at me, sharing family stories while showing me how easy it is. Rick Bayless is so earnest as he explains and demonstrates, working in a bit of culture along the way. And I believe! Of course I don’t get to taste it or even smell it. It is television, after all, and I don’t really know if the outcome is successful. But when Paula Deen pops a crab ball into her mouth and rolls her eyes I just know that’s got to be the best thing since fried chicken. What can be more caring than feeding someone? For those 30 minutes I am convinced I could cook just like Rick and Paula, Tyler and Bobby. I scurry around for paper and pencil to take it all down. Inevitably, by the time I get my shopping list to the store aisle, the ambition has fizzed away. After all that cooking with Giada, I’m just too exhausted to trail around the store sniffing cilantro and ponder the oregano’s country of origin. I load another bag of cheetos into my cart and wonder how they would taste with peach salsa.


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