Tuesday, February 28, 2006

While I'm on the Subject, Here's Another Food Post

Every night we watch the Food Network lineup while we eat dinner, because it gets us in the mood and really enhances our dining experience. Also, it compels J to say things like, “You know, Emeril is the Dr. Phil of cooking.” So first we watch Good Eats with Alton Brown, followed by Unwrapped, with host Marc Summers. Who is definitely a robot. I need no more convincing. And am I the only person who finds the Unwrapped set diner just a little bit creepy?

What I love best about Unwrapped is the way they label food industry spokespeople as they explain everything you never wanted to know about Fritos. So they’ll have this talking head on the screen expounding on the history and nuances of toaster waffles or baked beans or whatever, and this is what you’ll see on the bottom of your screen:

Eggs Benedict Historian ... Gingerbread Specialist ... Peanut Brittle Expert ... Food Packaging Authority ... Macaroni Maven

For some reason this always makes me laugh. But I tell you what. The day I see a vacancy posted for a Scone Scholar, I’m submitting my resume, stat.

Anyway. Back to cheerless factory food production. Half the time I don’t want to eat my favorite foods ever again after I see how they’re made. I for one prefer to imagine my bagels lovingly hand-formed by a rotund, smiling, elderly baker (who’s wearing gloves, of course). Not expelled from some high-speed mechanical chute like bolts from the colon of a laxative-addled C3PO.

But as one who toiled for three weeks in the bowels of a cheese factory, let me tell you about a little secret I learned on the job. Some foods are so arcane and singular? That they use different labels on the same product. We slapped a Kraft label, Sysco label, and a local semi-generic label on the same 4 oz package of blue cheese crumbles. The store slaps the different price tag on it. (And no, I meant absolutely nothing by pairing the word “bowels” with “cheese factory.” It was just a coincidence.)

That eye-opening revelation in the blue cheese pit caused me to seriously re-evaluate everything in my life. Every guy I’d dated thus far? They were the same guy, but with different hairdos! Actually, scratch that. They all had longish skater hair and a tendency to get high and forget to call me back.

In a completely unrelated story halfway around the world, my best friend departed early this morning for Thailand. She will be volunteering for one solid month at this orphanage. Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to be fitted for her Mother Theresa uniform before leaving, so she’s stuck with polyester blend gaucho pants and t-shirts. Safe travels, C! And if you want, feel free to smuggle one of those lil’ cuties home for me. I need someone to run my errands and scrub my floors.

(I kid! I would never make orphans run errands for me. They don’t even have their drivers’ licenses yet. Sheesh!)


  1. Now orphans can't drive but I bet they can run fast...

    I love that your friend is doing that and I'm sure it's going to be so rewarding for her to spend a month helping children.

    I LOVE me some Food Network. I do like Good Eats because it's interesting but Marc Summers creeps me out, especially when he was on Nickelodeon.

    I love Iron Chef and all the other cooking shows, they too make me hungry. 'Course I reach for chips instead of a gourmet meal.


  2. Too funny! I need to watch more Food Network. My mom got me Rachael Ray's 365 Meals cookbook and it glares at me each night as I prepare pasta for the "how many days are we into 2006 now?"th time.

    Totally thought of you last night when I was in the line at the grocery picking up Sick Boyfriend's dinner requests, as he'd just returned from Scotland hours earlier. The fixins for PB&J and lemon-line Gatorade. And I got some Doriots to round out the meal for myself. Oh. My. God. I was so ashamed at my stash but I couldn't help but smile.

    Also? We watched Napoleon Dynamite and there's a scene in there that I didn't remember seeing the first time where they go to a chicken farm and harvest eggs. Couldn't get the image of a potentially half-formed chicken appearing when the eggs were cracked open. Ugh.


  3. From bagels to orphans. I love it. You're making me hungry with all this talk of food. Me loves bagels.

  4. we keep TVFN on 24/7 in our house (ever since the Diebold debacle of 2004 I have a really hard time watching CNN). As a so-called foodie type, I have a forbidden love for Paula Dean. She makes deep-fried lard rolled in corn flakes and more lard and then deep fries that - and I am simply riveted.

    Having written a book with a Food Network personality, I have lots of dirt on all of them. But I'll save that for a post of my own some day...

  5. Anonymous2:13 PM

    You crack me up girl.

    I watch 'Unwrapped' but the thing that makes me look away is whenever they're cooking those humongous batches of food in those big ol honkin VATS.

    Nobody should have to look at that much potato salad. Or beans. Or Cheeto sauce.

  6. how scandalous is that?!

    i visited the marshmallow factory (under duress and restraints) in vegas and it was the same story. Jet Puff marshmallows? same o same same as the generics. oh, the dishonesty of it all.

  7. Yeah, I totally agree, Mark Sommers is incredibly scary. He used to host a game show on Nickelodeon to which I was addicted as a a child - Double Dare. And the freaky thing is he doesn't look ANY different.

    PLUS, I hate Emeril almost as much as I hate Dr. Phil. Why they ever took Ming Tsai off the air I'll never understand!

  8. LOVED this line:

    Not expelled from some high-speed mechanical chute like bolts from the colon of a laxative-addled C3PO.

    Fabulous visual! I mean, I've never thought of CP30 excreting! It TOTALLy changes my views on the Star Wars franchise. THANKS!

    I love Alton Brown. I think Emeril is becoming too commercial. Can't stand Rachel Rae, but I can somewhat tolerate Giada DiLaurentis, only because she reminds me of Sophia Loren... somewhat.

    Don't you find it disquieting that Rachel Rae has the same ridiculous expression on her face and says "Yummy" entirely TOO much?

    I enjoy Unwrapped... but enjoy that other show... what's it? "Secret Life of..." The guy on that show really seems to enjoy what he does.

    Each summer, Mr. Nugget and I go to the restos run by the New England Culinary Institute... the place where Alton Brown went for his food schoolin'...

  9. That guy in the picture looks a bit like Ty from Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Which is much better than the one where they do horrific surgeries on people, don't you think?

    I am so buying your book so that I can enjoy your writing in a larger dose!!
    "Actually, scratch that. They all had longish skater hair and a tendency to get high and forget to call me back." So good. I dated those guys too!

  10. I must confess, I absolutely love _Unwrapped_. I even love Marc Summers; he's given me the warm fuzzies, in a completely wholesome way, since my adolescent days as a fan of _Double Dare_.

  11. Anonymous3:56 PM

    I keep it on almost 24-7 - Alton is growing on me - and I can barely watch the Japanese Chef Scramble or Iron Chef... blabla

    But, I love me some Rachael (although she's become way too hoarse and animated for me these days), Giada-how-the-hell-do-I-stay-so-skinng-DeLaurentis, and well, ALL OF IT.

    PS I want one of those titles -- Perhaps Food Eating Authority

  12. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I'm a Paula Deen girl, myself. She talks like I talk and makes food my family likes to eat.

    I wish someone would BAM Emiril upside the head. I can't even watch those awful toothpaste commercials that he's in.

    Hubby is in LUV with Giada. He won't admit it, but she's on TiVo and I didn't put her there.

  13. Anonymous4:41 PM

    How wonderful that you watch cooking shows while eating. We do that, too. And I know this is corny, but we eat pizza during the Sopranos! It makes it taste that much better!

  14. I always meant to call you back!

    Oh yeah, and I've gotten my hair cut since then too.

  15. Love Alton Brown. Love, love, love him.

  16. Ah! A friend of mine went to Thailand to help in an orphanage too! I wonder if it's the same one. And you can probably get a sixteen-year old, teach him how to drive, and then you can have your orphan!

    Oh, and what's up with Rachel Ray on Oprah today with her new catchphrase each time she takes a bite of something: YUMM-O.

    WTF kinda word is that?!?!?

  17. OK, am I the last person to know that they are repackaging the same crap and charging different prices?

    Maybe that's true and maybe its not, but I tell ya what. That Granny Goose bitch aint got nothing on Lays.

  18. Hi. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I love Food Network!


  19. I had no idea such a t.v. program existed! I've always wanted to take the kids on a cross-country tour of candy and snack food factories, but maybe I should just let them watch more t.v., huh?

  20. Did you all know that Marc Summers has OCD? He used to freak out when they'd dump the slime on Nickelodeon.

    I can't wait for your book to be out. Are you going to be doing book signings? :)

  21. I like the bagel chute idea. I like the idea of my food never having touched any human being. I'm anal like that. not to be confused with my cheese factory. :)

  22. Anonymous10:45 AM

    I don't know if she's on Food Network, but I love me some nigella Lawson. She's gorgeous and loves food. I want to be like her.

    I'll have to check out some of the other shows. I am so tv-sheltered.

  23. I can just imagine being introduced to someone at a party who says "Hi, I'm an EGGS BENEDICT HISTORIAN, what do you do for a living?"

  24. Anonymous4:43 PM

    isn't it scary that the only thing i remembered from your post was the skater guys and the lack of phone calls? one little snipet and bam, everything is forgotten. maybe it's because it's the story of my life! well, not now, but it was.....

  25. We used to go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory as part of our coast trips. I could sit there and watch 'em make cheese forever. And then sit and eat cheese forever. Was that you in the hairnet?

  26. Gosh, I haven't had a bagel in ... oh, it's been such a long time. Now I want one, but I don't have any in the house! Grrrr.


  27. Anonymous7:23 PM

    But I'm sure the blue cheese with the expensive label tasted better.

  28. Anonymous8:10 PM

    Another FN junkie here. I met Alton Brown @ a book signing last year, he's one of my favorites. Also love Paula, Giada & Michael Chiarello. I CAN'T STAND Rachel Ray & have fantasies about beating her to death with a bottle of EVOO.

    Best wishes for a safe trip to C!

  29. I'm a food channel junkie, too. My favorites are Giada, Paula, Rachael, Alton, and Emeril.

  30. Anonymous4:31 AM

    I agree 100% Marc Summers is creepy! Doesn't he seem like the kind of guy that would be nice to your face in public but a real dickhole in person!