Food for thought - Mercedes-Benz Forum

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-15-2006, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
BenzWorld Elite
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
Posts: 36,850
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
(Thread Starter)
Food for thought

I like the food channel.


The rise of food television.
Issue of 2006-10-02
Posted 2006-09-25

The first sign that I’d been unknowingly affected by cooking shows occurred on a Sunday morning when I realized I was talking to myself. I’d bee making toast. “First, we cut our bread,” I whispered. “Do you know why?” I stopped what I was doing and looked up. “Let me tell you why.” It wa eight-thirty. It was also Hour 25 of a seventy-two-hour commitment I’d made to watch continuous food television (sleeping only when the show began repeating at midnight) I’d begun the venture on a lark, curious about what I’d discover. This, for instance, is what I had learned about the hazelnut: “They grow on hazel trees. . . . They’re super-duper rich.” That was from the Food Network’s “Everyday Italian,” with Giada De Laurentiis. (The following week, on a show hosted by Sandra Lee, I heard, “Do you know when the first cheesecake was ever documented as being eaten or served? It was in 776, or 776 B.C., by the Greeks at the Olympics. Isn’t that pretty cool? Say that at a dinner party and everyone’s going to think you’re brilliant and well read.”) I don’t want to sound harsh—this wasn’t the History Channel—but, on the evidence, there was a surprisingly strong affinity between preparing food and talking baby talk.

At around Hour 36, a more illuminating sign occurred. It was during a rerun of Bobby Flay’s “Throwdown.” Flay is a veteran food-television personality. “Throwdown” is his seventh show, and it involves Flay’s challenging old hands at their game: making Jamaican jerk chicken with a jerk-chicken diva, say, or taking on Cindy the Chili Queen, whose Cin Chili clearly rocks. Flay is then usually humiliated, and the old hand—Butch the pit master, say, with his secret spice rub—gets pumped beyond reason, the little-guy view of the world is vindicated, and everyone feels good. I set out to prepare some supper, and as I removed a loaf of bread from a paper bag I was struck by an unexpected sound: the dry, crisp noise of the bag being disturbed. I’d never noticed this before. It was loud and crinkly: so utterly brown paper. I shrugged (was it a lack of humidity?) and proceeded to dress a salad, in a bowl next to a candle. I cut up a lemon and squeezed a slice. The fruit, crushed in front of the flickering light, was magically transformed. I squeezed again: juice beaded up and fell in a stream of bright droplets. I squeezed one more time, enjoying what I now regarded as a citrusy translucence, a candle by lemon light. “Veeeeeery pretty!” I said to no one, feeling sixteen and having a late-night-munchies perception moment. I’d been brainwashed, in a fashion, my senses heightened by this long, uninterrupted session of food television. It wasn’t an unpleasant state (apart from the consequences for my salad, now inedible).

I had fallen victim to what is called, by its detractors, “food porn.” Its creators usually refer to it as “making beauties”—as in “Hey, Al, let’s do a beauty of those pecans.” Bob Tuschman, the Food Network’s head of programming, had described the concept when I visited him in his office, above the Chelsea Market, in Manhattan. The point is to get very close to what you are filming, so close that you can see an ingredient’s “pores” (“You should believe the dish is in your living room”), which then triggers some kind of Neanderthal reflex. “If you’re flicking from channel to channel and come upon food that has been shot in this way, you will be hardwired as a human being to stop, look, and bring it back to your cave.”

Earlier in the week, I’d watched that same Al—Al Liguori—film some of those beauty pecans at one of the Food Network’s studios. Al worked the jib—a high-powered camera at the end of a twelve-foot arm. The pecans, surrounded by five spotlights, were resting on a bent piece of Plexiglas, for a hundred-per-cent reflection (pecans both in a bowl and somehow below it, like mountains on a placid lake), while Al inched closer and closer (“getting tight”). He then manipulated a knob so that some nuts were in focus, while the ones behind, backlit, receded into an arty blur.

Al has shot a lot of food. (“More diced onions than anyone on the planet.”) He is thirty-six and has been behind a food camera for ten years. I’d watched him before, during a taping of “Emeril Live,” starring Emeril Lagasse, the portly Portuguese baker from Fall River, Massachusetts, who was probably more naturally an evangelist than a natural chef and, after years at the Commander’s Palace, in New Orleans, had been born again as a Creole kitchen crooner. Lagasse was the first to discover that cooking before a bleachers crowd, primed to respond raucously to theatrical additions of garlic or chili flakes or bacon (“Let’s take it up a notch!”), can make for inexplicably compelling television. “The trick,” Al had told me, “is to film during the lunch hour and get closeups of the audience—they’re crazy with hunger.”

After the pecans, Al shot a cup of milk being measured out. This required three takes and was followed by a “sound pass”—same event, but with a microphone close up to get the acoustic ripples. They would be amplified and edited back into the final version. Milk as waterfall.

“You should talk to Hugh,” Al said, pointing to a burly man with a handheld camera. “Hugh Walsh is the beauty specialist.”

Hugh was filming a carrot. The carrot, the pecans, and the acoustically amped milk were for “Party Line,” a new show hosted by Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, winners of last year’s search on “The Next Food Network Star.” (“Ten thousand tried! Only two succeeded!”) “We are a gay couple,” they’d announced on their audition video, “and you should really think about that, because the gays right now, they’re hot.” They are from Chicago—actors who started a catering business—with a low-wattage repartee (on dirty dishes: “We have people for that. We call him Dan”) and an anachronistic, almost blithely oblivious aesthetic: their meals seem like something someone’s parents once ate, a campy “Joy of Cooking,” or a display at a MOMA exhibit. The set was Grosse Pointe, 1960: brown sofa, brown chairs, a brown chest of drawers with round knobs, a throw rug, a linoleum floor; you could imagine a black-and-white television in the corner and the Kennedy-Nixon debate. Today, Dan and Steve were making a “veggie basket” (perfect with “a smoky ranch dip”). I knew nothing about veggie baskets, but there was instruction: a number (less than six veggies, too “skimpy”; more than twelve, too much), a technique (blanch your beans, then ice them, so the green pops), and a commitment to visual novelty (yellow carrots, purple peppers, rainbow greens). Putting the basket together took all afternoon, and there were many retakes.

During a break, I asked Hugh what he’d been doing with his camera. It had always been moving (if I hadn’t been studying it, I wouldn’t have noticed): a barely perceptible pan, a slow circle, a gentle back-and-forth.

MUCH more at:

Last edited by Botnst; 10-15-2006 at 02:38 PM.
Botnst is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-15-2006, 02:43 PM
BenzWorld Elite
mcbear's Avatar
Date registered: Apr 2004
Vehicle: E500Es
Location: The BlueGrass State
Posts: 29,579
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
um, I'll be back in an hour.


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
mcbear is offline  
post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-15-2006, 02:52 PM
Lifetime Premium Member
Shane's Avatar
Date registered: Aug 2002
Vehicle: And what was left was what was guilt was what u gave to me
Location: A cavalcade of strangers came to tear ur world apart
Posts: 41,518
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Quoted: 1725 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
Can't think too much about food or I will never stop. Can't gain weight, must not eat now, must resist, must....
Shane is offline  
post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-15-2006, 04:51 PM
BenzWorld Elite
Von Vorschlag's Avatar
Date registered: Apr 2006
Vehicle: A red Vimana
Location: the pale blue dot
Posts: 19,563
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Quoted: 1118 Post(s)
lets just hope the kid's don't watch that stuff

Last edited by Von Vorschlag; 11-05-2012 at 12:41 PM.
Von Vorschlag is offline  
post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-15-2006, 05:11 PM
worst mod in BW history
ThrillKill's Avatar
Date registered: Apr 2005
Vehicle: ML CLK Iridescent Hyundai Accent lol,GoPed Freightshaker & Volvo semi's, c'mawn?
Location: Chicago
Posts: 27,762
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
Booby Flay is an infidel!

ThrillKill is offline  
post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-16-2006, 01:20 AM
BenzWorld Elite
shrimpton's Avatar
Date registered: Aug 2002
Vehicle: '90 560SEL, V8 Landcruiser, Toyota S/Wagon
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 2,551
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I stopped scan reading at around the carrot gay bit.....
shrimpton is offline  
Sponsored Links

  Mercedes-Benz Forum > General Mercedes-Benz Forums > Off-Topic

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mercedes-Benz Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


  • Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
    Thread Tools
    Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
    Email this Page Email this Page
    Display Modes
    Linear Mode Linear Mode

    Similar Threads
    Topic Author Forum Replies Last Post
    Your favorite food Corkscrew Off-Topic 64 04-19-2006 12:57 AM
    Ugly Food GeeS Off-Topic 13 09-01-2005 05:38 PM
    Extended warranty food for thought 5thMB1stNew W163 M-Class 6 02-09-2005 06:56 PM
    "Food for thought" sflori Off-Topic 18 10-30-2004 10:21 AM
    Stats: food for thought Max R170 SLK-Class 4 05-21-2004 03:16 PM

    Posting Rules  
    You may post new threads
    You may post replies
    You may not post attachments
    You may not edit your posts

    BB code is On
    Smilies are On
    [IMG] code is On
    HTML code is Off
    Trackbacks are On
    Pingbacks are On
    Refbacks are On


    Title goes here

    video goes here
    description goes here. Read Full Story
    For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome