“Food: Not Just for Eating Anymore”

FNAmerican Idol wrapped its 15th and final season last month.

Sigh.

Even though I could still get a little fix of AI glory days watching infamously critical judge Simon make a comeback on America’s Got Talent, it’s not the same. During his British holiday hiatus he became a father and parenthood has made him all compassionate, tactful and encouraging to contestants.

Bummer.

I’ve been in a panic trying to figure out how to fill the void. Then suddenly, the void filled. Actually, it overflowed.

I discovered the Food Network.

It happened by accident–no, it was kismet. I was exercising in a hotel fitness center. To mix things up for my workout, I occasionally sneak into hotel fitness facilities for sweat sessions. Jk, I was staying in one legit on business. The treadmill I was on had the fancy built-in TV screen, but I’d already begun the preset fat-burner workout before realizing the channel button was broken and it was stuck on Food Network.

Though the channel has been around for over 20 years and I’ve been a cable subscriber for half that time, I’d never watched a single FN show.

Why in the world would anybody want to watch someone cook?

That’s like watching someone fold laundry. “First, I like to start with the towels. I remove them from the dryer just before the cycle finishes so they’re still warm and fluffy. I take each towel individually and grasp firmly with both hands at the vertical end and shake briskly, but not too hard as unnecessary roughness can ruin the selvedge.”

Yawn.

But, like Simon of old, I had judged harshly, and unfairly since I’d never watched a cooking show of any kind. Julia Child was before my time and after watching my ancient and stodgy 9th grade Home Ec teacher Mrs. Shurtleff demonstrate how to make a roux paste, I had no interest to explore the genre further. Until that fateful day on the hotel treadmill.

The show playing was Chopped, an intense cooking competition where chefs’ skills are tested by having to prepare dishes for a panel of discriminating judges with obscure ingredients revealed just seconds before a stingy time limit is set.

I got sucked in.

The chefs were like magicians turning things like geoduck (a seafood), jicama (a Mexican turnip), pickled pig lips (no further explanation necessary), and rocky mountain oysters (if you don’t know, Google it) into entrées that were as beautiful as they were delicious–so the judges said.

Food was suddenly fun, interesting, engaging, exciting even! Now my DVR playlist is chock full of FN. I love watching Robert Irvine serve out big doses of tough love for struggling restaurants on Restaurant Impossible, and having Brunch @ Bobby’s or watching ambitious chefs try to take down the master chef on Beat Bobby Flay (few do cuz he’s a-ma-zing!). And I don’t even have to feel guilty about binge watching FN because it’s good, clean TV and serves as background entertainment while I do mundane tasks like folding towels (which I hope there is never ever a TV show about).

Best of all, it’s made me a better cook. Jk, I don’t want to ruin the fun by making it educational.

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