image via people.com
Like the title says, this crappy economy has ruined my relationship with the Food Network. Maybe you can feel me on this struggle, or maybe you have big paychecks and aren’t obsessed with watching people garnish and saute.
During this economic downturn, I have sort of lost my taste – if you will – for watching people prepare food on TV. I’m one of those strange failed nerds who is obsessed with watching others put together delicious meals with not much of hope of ever actually cooking like them. It’s not like I learn nothing from watching. It is somewhat educational, but it’s also therapeutic.
Since I was a child, I creepily waited all week for my Saturdays when I could sit with a cup of tea and veg out on PBS cooking shows. Decade upon decade, I obsessed over Jacques Pepin in his lush garden, the Naked Chef making scallops fresh from the sea, that poor bald lady Lydia, and funny, kind Julia Child making pita with a man in a dress and his wife. I felt like these were my people, kindred spirits, except they’re like really good cooks who know how to gut animals, and I merely watch, drink my English breakfast, and salivate. So, not kindred spirits, but people who I wish were my friends.
Once the Food Network came about, I was psyched and ready to add to my cadre of chef “friends.” I mocked and admired Ina Garten on my MySpace blog, I seethed over Bobby Flay’s arrogance. The channel was more dramatic than the cooking shows I was used to, but I liked them good enough. Did they not make pasta sauce? Were they not also creating tartes from scratch? Did they not also brown chicken?
This was all very acceptable and enjoyable during years when I had enough money, or at least enough credit available to somewhat manage my insatiable hunger, whether through a self-made mediocre meal at home, by forcing someone to cook for me, or with a decent dine out. However, in the past year, I’ve been cripplingly broke and, to be honest, fucking hungry. It’s funny, because it’s not like I’ve lost weight, nor have I taken to sucking down Jr. Bacons anymore than I did before, when I had a working Visa. I’m not saying I’m dying of hunger, but I’m not currently in a position to always eat when I’m in the mood. I guess I could make pasta all the time (which I do) but up against that Food Network opulence, my paltry mix of vegetables found in the fridge just doesn’t measure up. It not only sucks for the people who have to put up with my hangry ass or even for my physical constitution, but also for the food shows I’ve so long loved.
I still can make it through Simply Ming, or a nice Julia episode, but the excess of the Food Network makes me sick to my stomach. I know no one likes Guy Fieri, but I like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It’s a show that makes me think: Hey, if I’m ever in Lincoln, Nebraska, I’m so gonna eat at that place. It’s almost accessible. Would be if, you know, I had the money to go to Nebraska.
The problem with the show for me now, during these days of semi-starvation, is that I no longer enjoy watching Guy Fieri scarf down the delicately handled heirloom pork or buffalo meat tacos and then rave about how good they are. Well fed, I feel good when I hear him say – his mouth full, hot sauce on the chin – “Oh, MANNNNNNN. This is GOOD!” Now, it just makes me insanely jealous. Like before I sort of envied him his job, these days, I hate him for it.
“So,” you say, “get a fucking job, you sad sack of freelancing shit.” To you, I say, “Fine. Maybe I will.”
I will, if only for the sake of my one, pure entertainment. If only to bring back my passion for passively watching other people make beautiful food art. To get that soothing feeling back, like a child watching their parents make fragrant, colorful meals from the highchair, if their parent was Giada.
That’s what I want. That and a schnitzel, warm dill potato salad, and homemade pickles.