Wednesday, July 05, 2006

5,001 Nights at the Remote.

* The interview with Jacques Pepin in the "Domains" feature of The New York Times Magazine a few weekends ago predictably charming, serious, self-effacing. (Sorry to say he really is getting older. He had a long run of not aging, though.) Funniest bits: He mentions as his evening routine sitting down to dinner with his wife and two bottles of wine, then in the next para. mentions that what's always on his bedside are antacids, for the heartburn he sometimes gets (from drinking too much wine). Also his admission that after three or four days of not cooking, he gets edgy, so he avoids hotels when he travels (because he can't cook). Cute.

* The new Alton Brown show on Food Network...blegh. I haven't seen it ("Feasting on Asphalt," it's called), I just know right now I don't want to. I am *not* a big fan of his, in general; I don't dislike him, I admire some of what he does, but he doesn't make me chuckle or twang my strings or go, "Oh, Alton! Yer so funny!" Hrumph. This new show seems problematic on a lot of levels: riddled with stupid, myopic, old-fashioned, All Come to Look for America food media bullshit (if we just leave New York City...there will be Pure American Cuisine at every stop!), for one. Then there's the fact that a bizillion people have done this already (hello J&M Stern), and A. Bourdain even did it for his series for the Food Network all of three years ago. Then there's the fact the Kerouac-y badass image AB is working for this is terribly hard to swallow. Everything about him is so (admittedly) manufactured, even/esp his usual 'cute nerd' persona--this bad boy shit feels straight-up ego-stroking and stupid. And derivative. The way he breathlessly, schoolmaster-ly gallops through his shows leaving no room for contradiction doesn't make me think he's going to be any good at actually listening to somebody besides himself. Or existing out of context, since he micro-manages every bit of his show normally. It would be nice to be surprised, but for now: Blegh. Part of the problem is the Food Network, period, which is so out-of-date sometimes it gets lapped by other network's shows, even with all the advantages they have in their position. Very behind Things.

* Have been noticing more and more that the close-up, sexy, Nigella-like camerawork on Giada de Laurentiis' shows highlights, rather than disguises, how sloppy a cook she is. She cuts up something wet and soggy (canned artichokes) on a her cutting board, then after sweeping them off, just plunks something else down on the wet wood, not even swiping at it with a tea cloth. So the cut-in close-up porn shots of her cutting/grabbing/touching things makes you go: hmm. How'd that get so clean? And now it's dirty. Now it's clean. Now it's dirty.

* My friend KA have discussed this, but Rachel Ray is gettin more and more frantic. Her voice is hoarser, her eyes less focused, the whole onscreen delivery much more packed with chatter. No pauses anymore. Just runs and runs and runs. You get the feeling she might say she's being more herself now (?), and her earlier incarnations on the show were more nervous/beginner, but she was actually a lot easier to take Then, when she acted much calmer. Not sure if this is a symptom of her being stretched too thin professionally, or what, but I'd like her to chill.

* Well, A. Bourdain's special about Ferran Adria was finally on on Monday. As always with things I care desperately about (that would be Adria), I could barely stand to watch it: I made sweeping sideways movements towards it, catching 10-second-bits out of the corner of my eye, running away, then watching a little more, then more, then more... Not bad. Not everything, but not bad. I have at least two big articles still bubbling around inside me about this guy--it is very hard to sit still when I watch/read things about him now. Too much fact-gathering and not enough Out-Putting. I think FA is adorable, by the way--I mean his eyes and their expressiveness and the way his face breaks into a smile when he's pleased someone. It's downright unAmerican.

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