September 16, 2006

T.V. Dinner

Televised cooking shows have secured their place in pop culture. There are now celebrity chefs from all over North America that are loved not only for their cooking but for their talk shows, books, and cooking products. There are some more deserving of these spots than others. (Rachel Ray - is there a reason that you thought your annoying voice would be less like nails on a chalk board if you spread it over a full hour?)

Before there were people like Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain, Ina Garten or Christine Cushing there was
Wok with Yan . This was the first cooking show ever watched by me, and I remember waiting for it to come on CBC each morning. Stephen Yan was hilarious with his cute little aprons - "Wok around the clock"- and really gave me some of my first glimpses into Asian cooking. I'm sure that by 10 I knew that most good Asian dishes started with loads of minced garlic and ginger, stir fried in a wok. Unfortunately, in the late 80's and early 90's cooking shows were few and far between, especially when your parents didn't have cable - probably because cable wasn't invented yet.

CBC did not fail me though. The 1990's brought
The Urban Peasant with James Barber. This was the show that really started me cooking on a regular basis - that and because my parents said that I needed to contribute at least one meal a week. His recipes were usually fairly uncomplicated and focused on one ingredient. I remember attempting a few in my early teens when it was my night to make dinner. One of James' recipe books now has a place on my shelf, along with that of one of his researchers, Anik See.

Growing up in a city that so closely boarders the United States, we are inundated with American T.V. channels. Luckily one of those channels was PBS. This channel was able to present
"America's Test Kitchen" and Lydia Bastianich's show. From here I learned how to make the perfect burger and buy the best bacon. Lydia, who is obviously before her time, first sparked my interest in the slow food movement. Her recipes were made with high quality ingredients and were not fussy. They were dishes that took time and care and had amazing levels of flavour.

In the mid-nineties I finally purchased cable and along with that came
Food Network Canada . I think it changed me forever. I can now inundate myself with T.V. chefs that discuss the science of food, what to drink with your food, how to entertain, regional food, as well as how to make frozen and packaged food part of your regular meals (someone needs to fire the producer that came up with that one). They seem to give more confidence to us laypeople cookers. Food television has helped to create a new generation of foodies.

I, for one, am addicted. Desert island + FoodTV = contentment.

1 comment:

dolly said...

My family has food network crushes; mine is Jamie Oliver, my sister loves David Rocco and my dad is in heart with Nigella Lawson.
We are a strange bunch!

Anyhow, I thought of your blog recently and had something to tell you, but it's slipped my mind!