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.