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The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.


It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.


Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.


Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.


Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.


Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bleepin reality

I rarely watch reality TV--it's against my religion (The Church of the Unreal) but one can hardly avoid it, and I've seen my share of cooking shows, and people in bikinis scheming to annihilate each other. I watched the first episode of this seaon's Hell's Kitchen last night by accident. Jeez. I think food cooked under those conditions is essentially toxic, no matter how well it turns out. I know that restaurant kitchens aren't like Grandma's, (and this is an exaggerated version of any restaurant kitchen) but it's such a disconnect from what cooking at its most fundamental ought to be: one person nurturing another with food.

That's hard to reconcile with my job, I know. I've eaten lots of food cooked like that that tasted delicious, and I certainly don't try to guess how much bleeping, name-calling, and fake retching were involved in its production when I review it. But I don't see how the cult of the a-hole chef makes people excited about going out to eat, or helps people understand what the art of cooking is about or if there's any good reason for this guy to get early Alzheimer's from busting all those capillaries in his brain.

Here's an interesting contrast to that spectacle, focusing on one man's morality and integrity in an unlikely context: the demise of a chain restaurant. My book club recently read "Last Night at the Lobster" by Stewart O'Nan. It's about the manager of a Red Lobster in an anonymous Northeastern mall that's being closed. (It's OK, he's going to be assistant manager at an Olive Garden.) It's short and almost plotless, but I found it very moving. Let me know what you think if you read it, especially if you've ever worked in the same setting.


9 Comments:

at 11:57 AM Blogger Rachel said...

I heard a review of that book (or is it a short story?) on NPR and it sounded really interesting. I can't read anything not listed on a syllabus till summer, though.

We're not cooking show fans, but my husband and I do like Top Chef. But we have to wonder if the winner really is the "top chef," given the kind of outrageous events and scenarios they have to compete in. Maybe it ought be called "Top Thinker" or "Top Resourceful" instead.

 
at 10:47 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

Gordon Ramsay was recently voted the most admired man in the UK.

The original BBC versions of both State-side series are much better and less produced, and "The F Word" is very good too with Ramsay and his children raising various beasts to eat and urging British women back into the kitchen.

 
at 7:16 AM Blogger Cin Twin1 said...

After reading this entry, I went and reserved a copy of the book at the library. Any other good food stories/book out there? I am not looking for recipes. Did anyone read Julie & Julia? Awesome book about a woman who attempts to make every recipe from Julia Child's cookbook. Last I heard, they are making the book into a movie with Meryl Streep playing Julia Child.

 
at 8:16 AM Blogger Polly Campbell said...

Last Night at the Lobster is a novel, unusual in its setting.I know if I think had, I can come up with food novels. There are a lot.

There are tons of memoirs. I recently read one called Trail of Crumbs by Sunee Kim. Orphaned Korean girl adopted by Americans, moves to France, lives with rich guy. It's sort of organized around food, but i never feel like the food part of it comes to life. And it just made me wish I'd moved to France and lived with a rich guy on his estate in Provence, so it wasn't that much fun.

 
at 9:52 AM Blogger vudutu said...

LOL, I hate un-reality shows too Polly. Last night I was cruzin the Tivo, 60 recordings and they were all cooking or travel shows and one LilBush and Lewis Black's Root of All Evil LOL.

Jamie Oliver is our favorite, Mario also and have you seen Floyd, he is sort of a modern low budget Galloping Gourmet.

 
at 4:53 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

Someone else who loves Keith Floyd? We must meet.

Floyd is everything a TV chef should be: drunk, irreverent, belligerent, keenly knowledgeable and adventurous. He only gets away with it because he has a British accent and dresses like a dandy.

 
at 9:38 PM Anonymous vudutu said...

Chad, time for a foodies happy hour! "everything a TV chef should be: drunk, irreverent, belligerent, keenly knowledgeable and adventurous." I agree, shades of Julia LOL. We always scan for new Floyd, no big production, just him and a camera man and a sound guy, he cracks us up, he focuses in on an area, fills you in on the food and history, sets up in a local place or on the street and clues you into the basic local eats. I think he gets away with it it because he pretty much does it like most people see themselves doing it it, rough and raw, close to the bone.

 
at 10:12 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polly, you had to admit, Ramsey throwing up that woman's entree was theatre at it's finest!!
You know, I watch that show and think: who would want this profession?! Glad to hear that it's not this aneurysm-blowing on a normal basis...

 
at 1:06 PM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

Relevant revelations from the kitchen of The French Laundry from Shuna Fish Lydon's blog:

http://eggbeater.typepad.com/shuna/2008/04/chef-owners-who.html

The asshole chef lives and breathes in America's best kitchen.

 
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