18 July 2015

Presentation

Over the years, I have prepared thousands of meals. Whenever I plate up a meal, I take a little trouble over it because the savouring of good food is not just about the tastiness of what is is on the plate - but it is also about its appearance. I don't like to see the elements of a meal just dumped carelessly on a plate - say with vegetables on top of the meat or with the gravy idly dripped on the plate's edge. No - to me it should look nice.

Television is awash with cooking programmes. Nobodies like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson have become well-known celebrities - on a par with rock stars or Olympic athletes. Viewers who are probably munching on pizzas and ready meals find these cookery shows spellbinding but I am utterly fed up with them and I would like to see nearly all of  them banned. Their relationship to real life cooking and the reality of ordinary people's lives is extremely tenuous.

One of the things that really irritates me about many of these cookery shows is their obsession with how dishes look. That plonker Heston Blumenthal is probably the worst exponent of this "food as art" cult with his swirls of red wine sauce, his globules of balsamic vinegar and his pomegranate foam. Herbs are often used for mere decoration and there are blow torches and piping bags. It is all too much.

In the suburbs of Mumbai, Sao Paulo and Kampala, children are scrabbling in the dirt, not knowing if there will be anything to eat back in their tin shack homes but if there is it won't be five star and it won't look as if it has come from some glossy coffee table book. The gulf between the diets of the world's poor and the plates shown on "Celebrity Master Chef" is outrageous and arguably an indictment of our times.

There's a big difference between making a little effort to present meals nicely and viewing the presentation of food as some kind of art form.

I'd like to see a whole new breed of cooking programmes - "How To Make Best Use of Your Microwave", "Saving Money by using Leftovers", "How to Use Your Freezer Better", "Good Meals from Cheap Ingredients", "Cooking When You Haven't Got Much Time", "Takeaway Food", "The Sandwich Show" etcetera. And we'd get rid of the celebrities. Instead there'd just be a rasping and anonymous northern voice narrating for the TV audience as ordinary mortals take centre stage, -showing us genuinely helpful cooking tips. So farewell Rick, Nigella, Chef ****ing Ramsey, Jamie and the odious Nigel Slater! We don't need you any more. In fact, we never did.

26 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more. Nice to see you use a plate as well, not a piece of wood or slate as seems to be the fashion these days!

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    1. I have had food from a slate. I didn't like it. Plates are designed the way they are for a practical purpose - the little edges keep food within a sensible boundary. Slates are for roofing houses.

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  2. Nigel slater makes my skin crawl

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    1. Mice Skin Crawl is a vile dish.

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  3. C'mon, YP. Don't hold back. Tell us what you REALLY think!

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    1. I have always been bashful Mary - keeping my own counsel on controversial subjects.

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  4. I enjoy cookery books. I don't bother with television so don't know half the people referred to. I used to enjoy watching Keith Floyd. Nigella was okay but a bit rubenesque for me.

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    1. Nigella is a self-confessed coke sniffer and cannabis toker yet the BBC still employ her! Does "rubenesque" mean drug user?

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  5. I love Jamie...he cooks with gusto and without all the unnecessary frills and flounces. I've never like Nigella...too much of a poser for my liking. I do like watching many of the good cooking shows on TV like MasterChef, for instance. Our current season of MC has been absolutely fabulous...the array of young cooks competing this season have been brilliant from day one. They are all of a high standard.

    I enjoy, also, reading and looking at recipes, food preparation and presentation...and I always read restaurant reviews, but I guess, too, it's because I was involved in the industry in one way and the other for many years. My interest in cooking began when I was a child. These days my needs are simple so I cook very simply, but I still enjoy reading and watching the talents of others.

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    1. Thank you for your response Lee. I would rather watch "Cooking With Lee" than "Jamie's Kitchen". If that numbskull walked in my local pub I would deck him.

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    2. We'll have to agree to disagree about Jamie, Yorky.

      I don't think he is in anyway a "numbskull" ...if he walked into my restaurant, resort, shop, pub, home or just walked by I'd be thrilled to say "G'day" to him. Jamie cooks food and handles it just the way I like to. His food is basic, down-to-earth, healthy, tasty and well prepared.

      We all have our own dislikes and likes in everything in life - and I guess this is one of those times.

      I think cooking shows are good for people...they've taught many folk how to handle and prepare food..they've created interest where some folk would never have found the interest. Things have changed through the decades from when I was a little kid watching and learning from my Nana as she prepared our meals etc. Many of kids today and in the near past haven't and didn't have that opportunity.

      TV cooking shows obviously are very popular with the viewing public otherwise they'd been long gone from our screens. They teach people about various foods, herbs and spices...and how to implement them in their home kitchens. If it teaches the "now generations" how to cook kick-starts their interest in good, fresh, healthy produce then, in my opinion, that is a good thing. Hopefully, they will help people eat more healthily and keep away from plastic food such as that presented by franchises like McDonalds etc.

      And just to put you at ease...I won't be recording any "Naked Chef" TV shows! :)

      Now, I'll put away my soapbox...and step onto my tomato box! :)

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    3. You would make an excellent priest Lee!

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    4. I agree with you Lee. Cooking shows , especially Masterchef, have made a lot of young people more interested in preparing food instead of buying takeaway which can only be a good thing. Having said this a lot of the food produced on these shows is way out of the experience of most people.

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  6. "Their relationship to real life cooking and the reality of ordinary people's lives is extremely tenuous." Well that principle gets rid of 98% of all films and tv programmes. How about a series "How to feed your family good wholesome soups and mains for a day for the price of three litres of coke and some fast food." I'm sure it would be a wow with the tvarati. I've nt heard of some of the chef's you mentioned and never seen them not have I seen UK Masterchef but I did enjoy the NZ version which showed some really good talent.

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    1. Really good NZ talent? You mean NZ Master Chef is populated by bikini babes?

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  7. Okay, there's a good rant. the food industry has room for much improvement.

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    1. Yes. It was a good rant wasn't it Red? I agree the food industry has much room for improvement but these smug cooking programmes have very little to do with the food industry.

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  8. I agree with you totally. So many Australian food shows are quite pretentious and the whole cooking "talk". I think there should also be more practical and thrifty cooking shows.

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    1. They purport to encourage finer cooking but in reality they are just lowlife drama. Television window dressing. They have virtually no impact on people's cooking habits Leisha. Thanks for dropping by and "G'day!"

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  9. Is a plonker a pig?

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    1. Well - in the case of Heston Blumenthal - yes. But usually a plonker means a twit, an idiot, a blunderer.

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  10. Cooking shows? Never watch any of them, there are several on German telly and they are rather popular, but just not my idea of entertainment.
    If I had to choose between the meals on the two pictures here, the decision would be an easy one.
    "The Sandwich Show" - now, that's one I'd like to be working for, as Foreign Correspondent maybe, presenting some of the stuff you can buy at a typical Swabian bakery.

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    1. And now "The Sandwich Show" is going over to our Swabian correspondent Pinky Riley for her report on The Chicken Bulgogi Sandwich
      "Guten tag! Before you can make a good Chicken Bulgogi you need the right Swabian bread.The main difference between the Seelen and Briegel is their shape. Seelen are skinnier and longer (like a mini baguette) and the Briegel are wider and shorter..."BLAH-BLAH-BLAH

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  11. Who rattled your cage this weekend YP? You really are in a grump. Is it raining? Can't you go and find some footpaths to trample - sorry, tramp. You're not forced to watch TV you know. Anyway you've given me an idea for a post so thanks for that.

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    1. Sorry. It's my time of the month Graham. I look forward to the post that is now gestating in the creative hinterland of your labyrynthine mind.

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