Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I’m still not free to tell everything about the taping of the final episode of the Food Network show, but I can say a few more things.
You may wonder why I, who has no access to TV, would be interested in seeing the taping at all (other than a chance to get away from the kids)?
While looking for a place to live in NY, our temporary housing had TV and cable. (As a matter of fact, until my wife blew my cover, I had the kids convinced that the TV showed nothing but the Food Network and the baseball playoffs.) Anyway, I had sent in an audition tape for this selfsame show. While I think I nailed the money shot of eating the final product with closed eyes, an orgasmic moan, and the smirking chew, the tape was dismal. I was exhausted from the apartment search, the kids didn’t give me an opportunity to rehearse, and even if I had had time to prepare, I know no “real” recipes, I just make stuff up as I go along. And the shows I wanted to pitch ran along the same lines.

Show 1. Cooking with kids
(Working title: Playing With Food - We Dance On The Table and Eat Off The Floor)
Get out the splat mat. Let kids pick bowls and three ingredients each. Let them have at it while you try to work on a recipe from a book.
When the kids start interfering, or when you realize you’re out of crucial ingredients (whichever happens first), set some water on the stove for pasta for the kids.
Pick up the phone. Call an Asian food place at random, order a number between one and fifteen as appetizer, something between thirty and eighty-five as entrée, and ask them to suggest a dessert.

Show 2. Gastronomic Adventure Tours
(after a bit by Gerhard Polt in which the narrator's husband eats human flesh which has unfortunately been prepared in the Dreaded Mint Sauce because of British colonialism)
A travel show in which the host eats the most outlandish foods possible. I didn’t know about Anthony Bourdain’s show yet, so I feel like a visionary.

Show 3. Late Night Food Talk
The Food Network needs to lecture less and entertain more. So I thought of inviting chefs and short-order cooks and famous people who haven’t had their stomach’s stapled yet and let them have at it, Bill Maher style.

Show 4. Literary Cuisine
(inspired by my former book club)
Pick a book, find something in it that the characters are eating, try to re-create it as authentically as possible, hunting with traps and plucking your own fowl, if necessary. Then get someone in to recommend what to drink with said item.
I’d be curious, for example, what a wine steward would recommend with Oliver Twist’s gruel.

Show 5. How To Eat
Watching people chew is the opening montage. Table manners are briefly addressed, but mostly it’s a show about meeting the body’s needs while meeting social needs as well.
It has become painfully clear to me, for example, that differing metabolisms require different frequencies of intake. (Observing the snacking habits of a 3-yr-old, a 6-yr-old, and a 35-yr-old with a hankering for chocolate, for example.) How could people possibly be hungry at the same time? And yet, we want to eat “together.” How different families and other social groups manage this would be the focus of this show.

Back to the taping:
When we got out of the studio, there was a desperate fan, waiting outside, needing “one more signature.” One of the people I was with almost blabbed. He didn’t mean to, he’s just a nice guy. Of course, he could have simply said, “Some Guy won” and been oh-so-smart about it. (See, the guy who won was Guy, get it? Eh.)
Speaking of “guys,” I noticed that the host used the grammatically incorrect PC “they” when referring to the potential winner. As in, something like, “When the winner is determined, they will have an opportunity to…” As awkward as this formulation is, I understand it to work as a shorthand for “he or she,” which is not only shorter, but also avoids giving primacy to either her or him. But in this case both finalists were male (not necessarily masculine, but gendered male), so “he” would have been fine, I think.
I belabor, but not needlessly. See, I’ve been itching for quite some time now to comment on an episode of This American Life, which did the same thing. The narrator said something about “the sperm donor” (singular) and then went on to say, “they.” Now that’s just silly, no?
Man, am I uptight. I’ve been saving this tidbit for how long? I should’ve been blogging sooner. It would have been out of my system ages ago.

I realized, though, how easily the show could’ve cashed in on the $750,000 premature disclosure fine. What if the fan was a plant?

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