Tuesday, August 22, 2006

5,001 Nights at the Remote.

* Okay, this may or may not be anything to note, but I had the sense I saw a little log-rolling on a new episode of Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels the other night. In her New England episode, she featured a breakfast place in Ogunquit, Maine, that was owned and run by a woman with the last name of Cusimano. Which, as crazed foodifilic fans know, is the same name as her husband. It may be that there's no connection at all (I couldn't find any), but in that case, why didn't she mention it? Did I miss it? I don't think so. Hmm. Hmm!

* I don't mean to always be kvelling about Jacques Pepin (note: new show coming! The Complete Pepin--I think it might be the full cycle of Jacques Pepin Celebrates with Claudine [blech]--I can't tell), but I was struck by something the other day. There is a certain kind of "common knowledge" Food Talk that fleshes out the chatter in many shows. I don't mean actual *facts* (bake this at 350) or knowledge (how to clean a squid), but this kind of middle-ground, kinda/sorta/mostly/maybe true stuff that people say over and over. Like...Don't worry, all the alcohol boils out. Always salt the pasta water. Never salt the pasta water. Tear, don't chop. Don't refrigerate oil. Let the meat rest. Sensible ideas, but not as absolute as the way in which the are delivered.

One major type of this talk is always about hot peppers. Over and over you hear that "the heat's all the seeds." "The heat's all in the ribs and seeds." "Get rid of the insides and it won't be hot." Jacques is one of the only chefs I see who actually *does* what you're really supposed to do in these situations, which is TASTE a little bit of it. As he pointed out in a recent show, the flesh of say--a serrano pepper--can be as mild as a bell pepper or as hot as a scotch bonnet--you don't know until you take a little nibble. He nibbles and tastes as he goes, and it just feels different than other chefs to actually see him do it. I've also seen Jacques violate a major Cooking Chatter tenet, which is that he washes his mushrooms. He just doesn't let them sit in the water, and uses them right after. I can't count how many times I've seen TV chefs admonish their audience to neeeeever wash the mushrooms.

* Alton Brown's show turning about to be about as annoying as I'd expect. The funny thing, of course, is that it's not that I disagree with him--I agree with his likes/dislikes and love of diners, etc.--and he's pretty sensible about the seeds in peppers--but perhaps if only because of my own know-it-all-ness, I find his species of this almost unbearable. The gabbling know-it-all-ism and precious, this-is-real-AMERICA-man! schtick together are in fact basically unbearable. That is, he has a talent for standing in his own light, whatever he's doing: he's either pontificating by himself, or else rhapsodizing in an inhuman way which should be appreciative but makes for bad journalism. He doesn't seem able to listen to people very well.

* In this same spirit, I really should dislike the Deen boys show--more road food/looking for America stuff--which suffers not from know-it-all-ism, but the opposite, but I can't help it, I like it, other than the folksy, gee-whillickers fake summings-up at the end of their travels. They *do* more or less give people time to talk, if nothing else. And they're damn cute and would make a delicious big girl sammch yes I said it.

* Nigella going to be on the Food Network this fall--don't think she's ever been on American network other than Style, right? Nigella Feasts. Anyhow, it'll be interestin. I'm a big fan of How to Eat and her general take on cooking (I like that she has a real POV, and not just about deep-frying Mars bars); not a big fan of the faux cinema-verite breathless porny filmmaking style of her cooking show. We'll see.

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