Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Happened to the Food Network?

My love affair with the Food Network began my sophomore year of college. Before then, I was so not a cook in any sense of the word. I lived off cheerios, fruit loops, apple jacks, and Schlotzskys my freshman year of college (and yet somehow I was way thinner then... hmm), and the only home-cooked meals I tasted were in my Mom's kitchen in Dallas. Then came sophomore year, and my first desire to learn how to cook. I stumbled across the FN in my tres ghetto apartment at the time and the first show I ever watched was 30-Minute Meals with Rachael Ray. Now, I know what you're thinking... she's the worst (and apparently a huge B in real life). And I agree, she is. Now. But back then she wasn't EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING, and even though she still said things like "EVOO" and "pasta overboard!", I found her charming and her recipes simple enough. Plus, she actually went through an entire meal and cooked it on the show in real time, so I learned how to cook by watching. I actually learned quite a lot, looking back, and so I will forever be grateful to her for introducing me to the wonderful world of cooking.

Soon thereafter I met Giada and Ina. I loved their shows because they were beautifully filmed in gorgeous white kitchens, and their food was fantastically simple. Admittedly, I was mesmerized by Giada's beauty and history (did you know her entire family is/was in the film business?). Her food also looked good, and since I've always been a fan of Italian, I was eager to try her many dishes. Unfortunately, they tend to look better than they taste (for the most part, not all), and it wasn't long before I found her overly Italian pronunciation of words like "spaghetti" and "parmiggiano" irritating. Also, does her cleavage HAVE to be on every single episode??

But Ina... oh Ina Ina Ina. I am in LOVE with Ina. She is everything a good cook should be: warm, motherly, pleasantly plump (I do not trust skinny chefs... AHEM Giada), and sweet as pie. Furthermore, she has an insanely gorgeous home in East Hampton and an adorable husband. And her food - oh the food! It's SO GOOD. I've never been disappointed in a single Ina dish. Ever! Her cookbooks are my absolute fave (note to self: must ask Mom to mail them asap), and I highly recommend them to both budding and seasoned chefs. (My friend Steph even got me an Ina cookbook signed by the Contessa herself!) The only downside to Ina's dishes is that they can get expensive. She insists on high quality ingredients (which is fair), but I once made one of her lasagna recipes and spent, like, $40 on different cheeses. Also, she uses her fair share of butter and cream, but it's nowhere near as obscene as that Paula lady with whom, btw, I have never gotten fully on board. Ina's just my fave, and I literally scream every time I actually catch her show on TV.

Fast forward to me now: my birthday gift to myself was to purchase a used TV off Craigslist for my petite NYC palace. I'm already paying for cable (the apt has a bundle plan), so getting a TV made sense. I've turned on the FN every day since and have been appalled to see that 90% of the shows are either reality/competition-based OR filled with annoying chefs (and I mean even more annoying than RR!) What happened to my FN?? Has anyone else noticed this awful shift? I can't wait to get my DVR (now rescheduled for Saturday... grr I hate you, Time Warner Cable) so I can record every single episode of Barefoot Contessa and never be forced to watch The Next FN Star or Down Home with the Neelys ever again. (No offense if you like those shows...)

As for the boys, well, I am IN LOVE with Tyler Florence and actually met him at the Food & Wine Festival in Austin many, many years ago. (I also asked him if he was single, and yes, my boyfriend at the time was sitting right next to me.) I equally ABHOR Bobby Flay. He's annoying, not cute, way too "I'm a MAN!", and never shall I dine in one of his restaurants.

And with that, I'll leave you with some food porn, Ina-style.

coconut cupcakes

baked eggs with cream

mac 'n cheese

lobster pot pie

asparagus with hollandaise


shelly said...

oh my! thank you for the food porn :)

i feel the same way about the FN...and Ina. love me some Ina....and i thought i was the only one tired of looking at Giada's boobs! ha.

you will be sad to find out that Ina is on some serious re-runs right now tho :(

Angela said...

I love Ina too Carolyn! But a dvd (dvr) is a must -- so much crap on TV.

I may steal the "food porn" phrase - very clever!!

Angela said...

Oh I almost forgot...Ina has a new book coming out in October.
"How Easy is That?"

The woman is a branding genius.
Pretty much all-around genius.


Marci said...

Have you tried watching The Cooking Channel? It's like old school Food Network, basically nothing but a huge variety of cooking shows.

Vanessa said...

I wholeheartedly agree about Ina. I have all of her cookbooks but one, and pretty much everything I've ever made from them (and it's a lot) has been totally delicious. I find her a little bit annoying (could do without the Hamptons-based name dropping and bragging about all of her apartments), but when she's together with Jeffrey, I just have to smile. Cute to see people who've been together that long still completely in love!

fresh365 said...

I'm pretty sure the only FN show my husband would watch with me is Giada's, and no its not because he's Italian ;) I agree with you on the lack of good shows now as well.

Melita said...

ryan & i got internet thru the cable company a while back. while the guy was here installing it, ryan said innocently enough, "i'll have to check to see if we get any basic channels." the cable guy said, "if you have a splitter, grab it and i'll install it for you." we started flipping thru the channels after he left and both of our eyes lit up when we discovered we had the food network lol. i am not much of a tv watcher, and try not to be. but sometimes i'll have the fn on as background noise. you are right, the shows aren't as good as they used to be. i do, however, LOVE ina and giada. those are my two favs!! btw, i'm still drooling over the food porn... you are a naughty girl lol ;) hugs!!

FB @ said...

I always try to follow recipes but I never have the spices or the sauces, so I don't bother...

Other than that, I tend to like pretty simple foods.

Kind of trying the semi-raw, vegan thing when I can.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! If I wrote a blog about the FN it would basically echo everything you just wrote! I LOVE..... LOVE... LOVE... Ina and Tyler!!!!!!!!! And can't stand all of the reality/competition based programing!!! And by the way did I mention that Ina is the best!!!! I really want to go to one of her dinner parties!!!!