Friday, August 07, 2009

Cooking Shows And the End of Life

I think the gist of Michael Pollan's New York Times Magazine piece "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch," which coincides with the release of the Meryl Streep movie about Julia Child, Julie and Julia, is that more people are watching cooking shows than actually cooking.

Sometimes that's not a bad thing.

I do a fair amount of culinary work at home, so I might not fit the pattern described, but I had occasion to watch The Food Network a good bit a few years ago. It helped pass the time as I sat with my mom in hospital rooms on a few different occasions, and I recalled that as I perused Mr. Pollan's article.

My mother was a home economics teacher for most of her career, an expert on food preparation, and sewing. Her memory had faded by the time she neared the end of her days, so I sought things that might seem familiar to her such as food preparation.

She never really developed much of an interest in the shows, but I sat watching, whiling those endless hours between doctor visits as she fought one condition or another. In a trapped situation, any diversion becomes more engrossing.

It winds up being an oddly fond memory now that she's about a year gone, not the best of memories by far, but a pleasant moment. Sitting with her, watching Emeril prepare a chicken dish or one of the other hosts dishing pasta or barbecue rubs.

Watching those shows provided peaceful lulls between the strife-filled moments. They were just entertainment, not instructional shows. They were something we could share in a strange way, something my mother might once have appreciated but couldn't fully on her slow journey toward the end.

I printed out some of the recipes from the web later. They're in the folder with all of our recipes, but I've never attempted any of them.


6 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

the only food related show I watch is Hell's Kitchen and Ramsey's Kitchen nightmares. Lana got me hooked on 'em.

Lana Gramlich said...

Charles got me hooked on Nip/Tuck, so it was only fair...

Erik Donald France said...

Sorry about your mother, a year out.

This is a powerful post -- I especially love the ending, and this: "In a trapped situation, any diversion becomes more engrossing."

Indeed.

Sidney said...

Thanks so much everyone!

Avery DeBow said...

The Food Network is always on, here. Except when Top Chef comes on, then I switch to Bravo. Alton Brown is one of my favorites, because he explains the whys of food preparation--and any of my old teachers can attest to the fact that I am one who needs to know why before I can move on.

Go on and open that folder and pick a recipe. See what happens. At the worst, you trash an entire meal and go get pizza. That's happened to me with French cooking more than once.

Steve Malley said...

Here at Secret Headquarters, we're big fans of Food Porn: those lingering close-ups of grilled meats, glistening sauces...

And I agree, it's diversion, entertainment and voyeuristic delight, not instruction. A great many chefs have dropped even the pretense that you're going to try this at home; they just show off for the camera.

And Erik's right: this was a powerful post, much moreso than my semi-flippant comment might tell...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...