A Truly Delicious Guilty Pleasure
How I fell under the spell of the Food Channel, and loved every minute of it
My intention was for the enormous 1,000-inch screen TV — I am exaggerating only slightly here — to provide background noise as I went about checking e-mails, finishing work projects and catching up on my life at a friend’s place where I was house-sitting.
Oh, no, no, no, that was not to be.
I fell under the spell of the food channel. And every other cooking show broadcast on a half-dozen other channels in the space of seven hours. I was homebound and spellbound all at once.
It is not that we do not have televisions in my home. There are two 48-inch screens in the basement where my sons watch Netflix and play videogames. I do not even know how to turn those televisions on, nor do I care to learn. And no, it is not just a power button that needs to be pressed. There are at least four remote controls in a basket on top of one TV, and I do not know which controls which TV or why.
For the record, my ignorance is voluntary. The most television I watch is in hotel rooms on business trips when I am usually too exhausted to venture down to the hotel pool — if they have one. So instead I order room service before flipping from one old movie to a version of Housewives to a do-it-yourself, makeover show.
After a long day of meetings and speeches, I will sink into fluffy-pillow heaven and let the screen madness take over all other intruding thoughts. My life looks serene by comparison; I sleep soundly with that reassurance.
So I am somewhat predisposed to falling helplessly bewitched by on-screen offerings. And it would make perfect sense then, that I was captured by a parade of cooking, eating and tasting shows for almost an entire day and night instead of doing anything I needed to do.
First were the appetizer shows — ground chicken “lollies” with blue cheese dipping sauce and macaroni and cheese egg rolls — followed by the enlightened demonstrated alternatives to high-fat, deep-fried, butter-encrusted delicacies promising to deliver comparable taste but not calories. With my mouth watering and my eyes widening to the possibility of creating such epicurean marvels in my home, I was riveted to the couch. I left my laptop alone on the desk and stopped answering texts.Glued to the TV, I was earning a masters degree in culinary simplicity in one lazy day.
Then there was the Italian cooking show — pasta with peas, ricotta and basil and calamari soup. I oohed and aahed in the privacy of my friend’s home without anyone to tell me to turn off the television and get back to my life. As one half-hour show ended, another began. And on and on. And not for one millisecond was I bored.
Why I could rush into the kitchen right now — right now! — and make caprese salad skewers and pecan delights or panini sandwiches, before leaping into a pot of cheddar soup, topped with garlic-infused buttered toasts. Oh how beautiful the plates looked, how happy the cooks, how surreal and magnificent and deliciously simple the suggestions. Never, never again would I consider a reasonable breakfast option a handful of cereal and a cup of coffee. No! It must be an egg white omelet with avocado and salsa, served with fresh fruit compote and a fruit smoothie of 11 ingredients.
I watched the shows until I could no longer keep my eyes open, my stomach growling for the pulled pork sandwiches, sweet potato cakes and sweet peppers stuffed with goat cheese and topped with buttered bread crumbs.
Perhaps I was so enamored because I do not have the luxury of watching cooking shows all the time, or even some of the time. Perhaps if I had regular access to cable food shows, I would grow bored of the endless combinations of flavors and hosts and processes and cooking styles.
But for one glorious, deliciously lazy day and evening, I let go of my life and jumped tastebuds first into the decadent indulgence of allowing dozens of strangers to show me there was no better way to spend my time than to sit back in a daze and let them do
all the cooking.