I like food. I won’t use the word “foodie” because I think it’s overused and now I don’t even know what that means anymore. But I like food. A lot. I like eating it and reading about it and cooking it and thanks to all that is good and holy I can now WATCH food on TV almost 24 hours a day.
But more than that I respect food. In its basic form it is nourishment and sustainment of life, but it is also the center of cultures, some of our earliest and most life-long memories, part of life cycle events, a character in our lives and often defines us. (Gluten-free diet, anyone?)
Because of all of this I just get disappointed at the FoodNetwork and many other networks that have lost sight of all of this. I see these shows like “Man vs Food” and even parts of “Chefs vs City” that just kill me. All these challenges to try to eat the most or swallow the hottest pepper ever – or, my most recent favorite, when Chefs vs City headed to New Orleans and had the chefs eat GRUBS in lieu of red beans and rice – a classic and celebrated staple from New Orleans as if that was a valid illustration of the lives and culture of New Orleanians.
JUST STOP IT. Not only has this sort of gluttonous shock television jumped the shark, that shark has been cut into steaks, grilled and served with a jovial and bold red.
There is a show that, while very “reality genre” based, has completely elevated my respect for a certain food and that is Deadliest Catch. Yes, the boats and the waves and the life and the danger are all compelling and slightly exploited for good television, but what these guys do is real and hard and deadly – all in the name of a catching a crab that I will dip into a clarified lemon-butter.
These guys choose that profession and accept that risk and they are paid handsomely for it. But after seeing what it takes and who these guys are – I’ll never look at a crab the same way again. And quite frankly before I eat one I mentally say thank you to the guys on those boats in the Bering Sea. To them and the families who go without them and accept that risk right alongside them.
Gluttonous television (see: Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest) is clearly a first-world entertainment option – and I’m not going to apologize for prosperity (that’s for our liberal friends to do), but what I can’t take is prosperity coupled with the lack of respect for the food itself or the people it represents.
You wouldn’t do it with a Chateau Lafite, don’t do it with the Chimayo pepper.