Ever since I got my first iPod I have been downloading books on CD so that I have something to take the sting out of mundane activities like peeling 8 pounds of butternut squash, or cleaning grout with a toothbrush. In the past 6 months, I have discovered the wealth of food-related podcasts available on iTunes, and they have revolutionized my life. In addition to reading recipe books and food magazines and watching nothing but cooking shows on TV (except for “The Office,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Friday Night Lights”) I can now listen to podcasts about cooking, food and restaurants to complete The Circle of Obsession. After starting with a relatively large selection, I have narrowed it down to the following podcasts which I love, all of which are available FOR FREE on iTunes. I encourage you to check them out.
- “The Splendid Table” with Lynne Rosetto Kasper is my favorite. I heart Lynne, and I used to be elated when I happened to catch this on American Public Radio in the car on a Sunday, and now I have it whenever I want it. It is my gold standard of food podcasts and includes recipes, discussions with authors, restauranteurs, chefs, a weekly “Roadfood” segment with Jane and Michael Stern, caller questions answered by Lynne and a “Stump the Chef” game played by Lynne and judged by Christopher Kimball of “Cook’s” Magazine. I have learned a new way to brine a turkey, what to do with Pimenton, how to pick good, cheap wines, and how to roast pears, all within the past week.
- “Cheap Date” which is a couple from the Chicago suburbs discussing food, drinks and restaurants where they have eaten. This is not particularly informational (unless you happen to live near Arlington Heights) but they are charming, unpretentious and funny.
- “Hungry Magazine” is a series of interviews by Mike Nagrant with chefs and restaurant owners, mostly in the Chicago area. He talks with them about their lives, their careers, their food philosophies and the Chicago dining scene.
- “The Restaurant Guys” are two gentleman from New Jersey who own two restaurants themselves, and (probably because of their proximity to Manhattan) get to interview all kinds of fascinating foodie types from Patricia Wells to Andrew Knowlton, currently a judge on “The Next Iron Chef.” They have strong opinions about food and restaurant related issues, and are smart and entertaining.
- “Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen” doesn’t seem to be in production these days, but Douglas is a well-known chef in Seattle who owns several restaurants, and discusses a variety of things with guests.
- “Chicago Bites” is a weekly restaurant review by two young women living in Chicago. I have a love-hate relationship with this one, because the reviewers are smart and funny and interesting, but seem to believe that anyone living outside an urban area has a low IQ and eats Cheez Wiz. However, when I was a young woman living in a different city, I believed pretty much the same thing, so I cut them lots of slack and wait every week to hear about what they ate and whether they liked it.
- KCRW’s “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman is my second favorite after “The Splendid Table. Evan knows her stuff, she has great guests, and every podcast begins with “market report”at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market so I can drool over fresh produce all year round, and learn what to do with it during the months when it actually exists here.
- “Young & Hungry” is a podcast out of Washington, D.C., and my other love/hate relationship with the podcasting world. The food expert, whose name is Tim Carman is very interesting, but the host of the show is an opinionated and somewhat belligerent fellow who seems to believe that his personal opinions (no fat should ever be used in cooking) are more interesting than those of the actual food expert. Still, its interesting enough that I return for more.