Friday, July 17, 2009

Death to Food Network (and Thank You Anthony Bourdain)

DISLAIMER: All opinions expressed here are the sole view of the Urbane Epicurean and should not be taken more seriously than the ravings of a madman. With that being said…



Where are all the REAL foodies?! I don’t mean those people on TV either. You know the saying “real recognize real”? The landscape of food focused individuals is beginning to look real unfamiliar right now. Why is it that every freaking food show or writer is some slightly varied interpretation of the stay at home mom who is very pleasant to speak with and who will teach you how to bake / fry / wash dishes while giving you advice on how to keep your husband happy? And no, not the dirty type, more the listen-when-he-speaks-and-learn-how-to-make-his-favorite-drink type. It continues to amaze me how many people think that to be a good food advocate you have to have some banal, bland, egg shell white persona. If not for the Bourdains and Ruhlmans of the world, I would pull my hair out at the grade school level antics these people use to entertain me and discuss food. I mean come on people, are we really ok with our TV personas being limited to chippy catch phrases (BAM) and quiet talk? Food isn’t just sitting around a stove preparing some recipe that smells “…mmmm so delicious”. It isn’t only about the latest or quickest recipes. Food life in real life is similar to the solar system – it revolves around the sun that is the dish, but ignoring the beauty of the other heavenly bodies would be simply foolish. I believe that food media these days is scorching our eyes by forcing us to only look directly into that bright, beaming sun.


My main issue is that there isn’t enough coverage of people LIVING food. So much of why food has managed to captivate so many people extends beyond just the flavors, tastes and preparation of a dish. It also encompasses the fringe details – the experience you have with your dinner party, the context of why you are together, the history of the ingredients and how someone brilliantly pieced them together, the vibe of your location, the excitement before a great meal adventure, the trends in seasons, the restaurant booms and busts, the gossip – all reasons why people flock to food. For all the damn reality shows on Bizzare Eats and Throwdowns, can we at least get a show that has No Reservations about how food can be cool?!

Why can’t food be cool? Why can’t we meet rockers, rappers, politicians or artists who also live to eat? I’ve met plenty of people in all walks of life who think the same way I do when it comes to every last bit of savory morsel on their plate. But do you see them on TV? No! Have we ever had a special episode dedicated to the trials and tribulations of finding delicious late night post-drinking meals that still taste good when you are sober? Absolutely not! What about food for the organically spirited? And I don’t mean yogurt, I’m talking that dreadlock, Bob Marley, yoga with incense kind of organic. For all the diversity in the world, the media seems fixated on homogeny.

I’m sure many of you would agree, the Food Network is the epitome of this modern day communism. Much like BET, this network only serves to further the negative stereotypes and controversial imagery associated with its target market. In this case, it’s all the sweet talking, entertaining enough that you don’t want to punch them in the face, quirky but not that funny food “personalities” getting airtime over the people you and I can more easily connect with. Not to say there isn’t a market for that sucrose content, but most of the real Urbane people are enjoying their meals in stride, working hard and keeping themselves entertained by the various offerings of the city night life.


Well I say no more! I am the Tank Man, seeking to stop the advancing enemy. I, too, will throw myself in the path of the machine in hopes that they recognize the decency within themselves and halt it from steamrolling over us all with its continual softness. Today I declare war on the niceness in food media, and will no longer support those innocent recipe-huggers (yes, like tree-huggers, only worse) of yesterday. This is the 2000s. Isn’t it about time we had food icons fit for our century?

That’s it, I’m done…

- The UE

6 comments:

wild cowgirl said...

create the change you wish to see.

Christopher said...

I agree with you on the personas of most of these Food Network stars - many of these personalities attempt their best impersonation the Martha Stewart model. I need some edginess to my Food Network star. Personally, I'd love to see DMX host his own cooking show on the Food Network as I believe he would greatly entertain all audiences. But what can you do?

And what do you have against Emeril sir? BAM is an effective catchphrase for all walks of life.

rif said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rif said...

I agree man. I want some excitement when they talk about the food. All the noise and confusion + plus relationship advice doesn't make me want more short rib... I'd like to see a cook making a dish, pairing it with wine, that he/she and the audience share... they have good food, good convo and the environment replicates any other night at a restaurant... only you learn something out of it... i'd also like to see how a pasta sauce is paired with Sotomayor's confirmation... make it all relative you know... Anyway great points, and great color to the column today UE.

I feel your pain!

Monique said...

Food Network = BET... priceless.

Ric said...

I've read this post three times ... trying, unsuccessfully, to agree with you. Now I acknowledge, there is some trash on there, but Guy Fieri and the Queer Eye guy aside, I don't think you're giving the Food Network credit for what it has done for food. No it doesn't teach us how one grows rice or how to harvest honey-bees in a tiny East Village apartment, but it did teach this kid from Long Island that poblano peppers aren't actually hot and that if you cook a cheesecake in a water bath it will prevent cracks. Like everything else in life, it is what you make of it. You take those simple lessons, and reinvent them with as much or as little panache as you'd like.

Okay, I'm done. Off to enjoy my homemade coconut sorbet. Thanks, Ina Garten!