Saturday, July 16, 2011

end of an era

I have a long-standing obsession with the Food Network.   I also watched a LOT of daytime television during my maternity leave, so I feel well-versed in current trends.  I could write a whole post on my love of Ina Garten, with her pleasant, obviously-medicated manner, her Hamptons-living, pink-Oxford wearing beautiful gay friends, and her puny, globe-trotting, lovable husband Jeffrey.

But this post isn't about Ina.

I could write a whole post on my ambivalence about Rachael Ray.  Her lifestyle empire grows by the second (dog food?  really?), and she manages to keep me marginally entertained most of the time.  I was convinced for nearly a decade that she smoked two packs a day, so imagine my disappointment when I found out she actually has vocal polyps.

But this post isn't about Rachael.

I could even write about the growing reliance of the Network on their attractive female stars, and how confusing it is for me when I think about their target audience (middle-class housewives at home in the middle of the day).

But no . . . this post is about the man who converted me to a Food Network believer.  The man whose love of food science kept me continually enchanted for years.  That's right:  Alton Brown.  For several years his amazing Good Eats was on at 10 pm (my bedtime), so I drifted off to sleep with Alton explaining things like gluten formation, fat hydrogenation, and kitchen multitaskers.  In fact, I'm making his recipe for pickled beets later this afternoon.  Kind of a poor-man's America's Test Kitchen, Good Eats was sometimes the highlight of a long day.

And Alton never really sold out, even as he became more popular.  Sure, he did those Welch's grape juice ads (but I love those because I'm a Methodist y'all!), and he has that commentating gig on Iron Chef America, but he doesn't have line of cookware or a daytime talk show. 

So imagine my shock, surprise, my angry tears, when I found out that Good Eats was ending after twelve years.  I was really upset about the demise of the show, but also about what it signals with regard to my beloved Food Network.  It's hard to find many actual cooking shows on there anymore!  Too many crappy cupcake wars and lame cooking battles.  Too much poorly-acted reality drivel.  I guess I need the Cooking Channel to really see cooking anymore.  Unfortunately, I'm too cheap to shell out for all the other channels that come in that premium package.  It truly is the end of an era, as Food Network goes the way of all the other cable networks, capitalizing on every American's desire to be a star.


Andrea said...

This makes me sad too. I love Alton Brown, and his show. Even if I don't have cable anymore, (or even a TV) I still love that show.

Sandy said...

I heart Alton Brown! His cookbooks are the only celebrity chef books I've ever wanted! This makes me very sad.

Kevin Rutledge said...

I agree. I think there are a couple of holiday specials left, and that was it. I remember watching food network with my grandmother before she passed away. We always watched rachel ray at 6:30 and then Good Eats at 7:00. I didn't really like Rachel Ray, and She thought Alton Brown was an A$$, but it was a great time spent together. I miss my grandmother and will miss Good Eats.

Christine said...

I've never been a Rachel Ray fan--while I can appreciate a lot that she does, she always sounds like she's shouting. It stresses me out watching her.

I love Ina Garten. I also love Paula Deen and Giada de Laurentis. Alton Brown is cool too, but in a whole different class because he doesn't teach you how to make a dish, he teaches you to understand the building blocks of food. If I were a teacher, I'd be making use of some of his videos for students on video days! Really useful stuff.

We don't have cable anymore, but we do have Netflix streaming. I keep waiting for anything from the Food Network to show up.