Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The ground I stand on

A little nudge from my friend over at Celeb Chef Report got me thinking (that's twice this week - I think I'm starting to owe him something). In my mentioning of the intellectual insults I feel often radiate from many name-sake bloggers and chefs, I may have clouded the clarity my definition of 'useful cooking'. So let me explain. First, my impressions for 90% of the celebrity chef market are bathed in a negative light. I think that when cooking is taken under the parental wing of the television market, it is changed. It becomes something less of a science, a craft, something that is removed from its proper environment, and continues further removal as the network increases its own stock value. Television cooking often devolves into a kindergarten-esque display of cute kitchen aprons, aesthetically driven house parties, and corny interactions with someone's daughter/friend/wife/husband involving an overwhelming ineptitude of rolling pizza dough. Simply stated, television cooking is not about the food. It's about making the food, and the process of the food, look good on TV.

That being said, there is still a lot of good stuff out there. I personally still watch FoodTV, probably a little bit too much. There are a few shows I really like on there, and a few of the celebs catch my attention when I get the chance to watch them (Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Iron Chef of both countries). But we can see as the network grows in popularity (and overall monetary value) it has to serve a customer base that piece by piece is less interested in food. Now we see a slew of reality television series, among other things, and frankly that's not what I look for in Food TV. However, regardless of my personal take on the national television food scene, I think any exposure common joe-not-in-the-kitchen gets to food only helps us further American cuisine as a whole, even if the message is perverse. It's great a ten year old kid knows what an emulsion is, even if it comes from Everyday Italian (a show which I think is glamorized beyond the point of disgusting). I generally agree with Anthony Bourdain's take on celebrity chefs, only without so much atrocity. Does that make me a hypocrite? Using a celebrity chef to explain my own take on celebrity chefs? Quite possibly.

Second, and the original aim of my post: the bloggers. Ninety percent of the food blogs I come across should be moved to the creative writing department. They spend four paragraphs coming up with clever adjectives and witty, oh-so-cute phrases to describe some endeavor of their own making. These articles are often followed with oohs and aahs of their comrades, and many pats on the back are exchanged. GIVE ME THE GOODS MAN! I am looking for philosophies, mtehods, thoughts of your own. What are your ideas of this dish? What did you do wrong? What could you change? What should you have changed? If I wanted cute food writing I'd turn to Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss does it better anyway.

When I post something edible on here, if you (whoever you are at this moment) look at it and see something wrong, I expect to hear 'hey, you fucked up on point A.' You can even point it out as a comment so the whole world sees it. I'm glad you saw it, glad you connected to it, and I'm very glad you took the time to show me something about it. I guess I'm most interested in growth as a culinarian, not in tricking people (or myself...hmmm) into thinking that I'm some mastermind. Food is not about that.

Now, it would be very easy for me to sit here and tell you what's wrong with the food world, without giving you a feel for what I think is right. However, since I'm not a politician, I'll give you my take on a few things; it would be a spineless act for me to do otherwise.

Celeb Chefs I like: Anthony Bourdain, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Michael Chiarello, Jamie Oliver.

Food Blogs I like: Ideas in Food, Celeb Chef Report, occasionally Obsession with Food, A Chick in the Kitchen.

On a closing note, I don't want people to think I discourage folks from watching the food network, or reading blogs where the authors go ridiculously over the top. I encourage everyone to watch and read everything we can get our garlic-laden hands on, but make sure to absorb the useful, and leave the rest of the crap alone. Skip the introductions if you have to, use the mute button, whatever it takes. In the end, it comes down to the ground you stand on.

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