I am still committed (insanely) to writing every day this month, and I have sat down at the keyboard between making marinara and taking my Sunday afternoon nap to do what I have decided to do on Sundays this month: compare the “best” and “worst” of something.
I will watch anyone cook on television. Really; I have watched people cook in other countries in languages I do not understand, I have watched people cook food I would never cook, eat or serve, and I have watched re-runs of cooking shows which is something I never do with any other television shows. (The guys, on the other hand, would watch every episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” in a continuous loop until the end of civilisation. And laugh).
My favorite cooking shows tend to be those that teach me something useful even if I don’t actually reproduce the recipes prepared on the show. They teach me about ingredients and techniques with which I am unfamiliar, motivate me to try new things, and definitely make me want to hang out with the TV chefs shooting the breeze about sustainable agriculture and molecular gastronomy.
- “Good Eats” because even if I don’t always agree with him, I always find Alton Brown interesting, adorable, smart, funny, creative and instructive. (I also loved “Feasting on Asphalt,” although it wasn’t really a cooking show).
- “Lidia’s Family Table” with Lidia Bastianich because Italian is my favorite flavor, and she is my favorite Italian.
- “Iron Chef America” and “The Next Iron Chef” because unlike other cooking competition shows, they features “real” chefs at the top of their respective games, and I always learn some new things.
- “The Barefoot Contessa” because she is sensible and charmingly in love with her husband, throws great parties and generally makes lovely, sexy food.
- “Easy Entertaining” with Michael Chiarello which I can never find, but which I always love when I find it. Great recipes, and my second-favorite Italian. Well, he and Mario are tied…. (Note: if Mario still had his own show, he would be on this list. The Food Network has, however, fired him so that they can run more shows about how candy is made, where to find quaint diners across America serving the same burgers and egg dishes (jalapeno burgers! giant omelettes!), or contests in which people make 5 foot Disney princesses out of sugar and piano wire and then try to move them 3 feet without breaking them).
- “Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade.” I’m pretty much all about the “Entirely Homemade.” She lost me the episode she made an “easy Buche de Noel” involving a purchased chocolate loaf cake after I had spent three days making a real one.
- Rachel Ray cooking 30-minute-meals. Cute and successful she may be, but I am all “yummo”-d out. Plus, I have not found her recipes all that wonderful.
- Emeril. I’m so sorry; I believe he is a great guy, a fine chef and a trail blazer, but my “bam” tolerance ended around the same time I was “yummo”-d out. I can’t get really excited about garlic unless it is gold-plated or comes with a hybrid SUV.
- – 100. Shows about grilling big hunks of meat, often featuring Bobby Flay or Steven Raichlen. No offense, but its not really cooking if you throw a hunk of protein on a fire while someone else makes the rest of the meal and sets the table. Even if you take the time to marinate it, first.