No, you don't get to eat the food they're making on these shows, but half of the joy of eating isn't in what goes into your digestive tract. It's the ritual, the love and care and presentation. This is why "atmosphere" matters in restaurants, and why the canned soup Mom served you as a kid somehow tasted better than the exact same can heated in the exact same way on the hot plate on your floor.
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It's About Spending Time With Talented, Inoffensive Human Beings
Casting is everything when it comes to a life-affirming cooking show. The hosts don't have to be sexy, or funny, or clever; they just have to make you feel at ease. The most popular Food Network show after 9/11, the one that dragged the channel out of the toilet, was 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray. Have you ever tried to watch that show? She says shit like "yummo" while somehow being an adult, and staunchly refuses to call olive oil by its actual name, opting instead for "evoo" like some kind of culinary dorkbot. And by god, people loved it.
Rachael Ray is like one of those flappy-arm inflatable tube guys outside of a used car dealership pumped full of wholesome culinary knowledge. That may sound like an insult, but it's not. Well, not totally. She doesn't challenge or demean anyone, and she's vibrant and active. When people across the land were terrified of what might come next, Ray was a beacon of hope because she made dinners in under 30 minutes that never once ended in any deaths. That's insane and delightful at the same time.
Cooking is love, goes the old cliche. If so, cooking shows are like a handjob for your soul. They make you feel like everything is alright, at least for a while. And that ain't bad.
For more, check out Cooking With Babel Fish: Pig Boiling Radish And Egg Entering:
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