Friday, January 8, 2010

I Am the Food Network

As of early January, there has been a blackout of both The Food Network and HG-TV, cable channels that feature programs on cooking and home and garden decor in the New York area. Some 3 million households are affected including those in Hoboken.

As an addict of both channels, I suffered withdrawal for several days. The dispute became apparent to viewers when the owners of the networks took the channels off the air and the cable provider ran a disclaimer on both channels advising viewers to call and tell the owners to put the channels back while negotiations continued. I did, and a number of my Hoboken friends who suffered the same as I did made similar calls. We were bounced from the cable provider to the channel owners with the admonishment to be sure to tell them to put their channels on the air. The channel owner had a couple of similar recordings and a customer-service representative who read a statement saying that the cable provider hadn't paid their fee and that was why the channels were pulled.

It's been almost a week now that I've been without my two most-watched channels, and I'm beginning to adapt. Today at lunch I made myself a poached chicken breast, a stuffed sweet potato, and a serving of brocolli that looked like a plate shown in a magazine. I boned the breast myself and sliced the meat into about three cutlets, poaching some for the future and even setting one raw one in the refrigerator to be prepared at some later date. I chattered to myself as I produced this model meal, and wound up my presentation with, "What the hell-- I am the food network."

For years when friends saw me in the kitchen chopping, sorting, and arranging party food, they would say, "You look like someone on tv." I would remind them, as I have said on this blog, that I learned to cook from Julia Child. Maybe that's why I cook that way--whatever, it's fun. Sometimes I think my whole life is just a show I carry with me everywhere--a portable home and cooking show.

To tell the truth, there is much that irritates me on both those channels. Food TV seems to think that to make cooking interesting they have to make a competiton out of it, and to create "reality" shows that look as phony as anything on the networks. And HG-TV shows endless re-runs of the biggest bores in the world looking for expensive real estate on "House Hunters" and all its variations.

I can watch cooking on PBS and home decorating tomorrow morning on A&E and The Learning Channel. Or I can just continue to stage my life as one occasionally interrupted Food Network Show and enjoy it. Come to think of it, my new condo is a real life version of HG-TV as well. The channel owners and the cable provider appear to be back at the bargaining table, and both channels may be back on as soon as tomorrow.

But what do I care? I am my own reality show.


Steve said...

Take a picture of that lovely sounding plate next time!

Mary Lois said...

Hear that, Food Network executives?

Karen said...

I've been watching more WLIW/ Create, and PBS cooking shows, lately. While I enjoy a few shows on FoodTV, I've come to also dislike all the reality programs they have started to showcase.

...and I recently realized how much I watch these other networks over FOODTV. So I haven't really missed it as much as I thought I would.

Jacques Pepin, Rick Bayless, The two Cook's Illustrated shows,Ruth Reichel's Adventures, Michael Colameco...these are the shows I now watch.

Mary Lois said...

Me too! And I'm watching TLC's "Property Ladder" right now, and will check out "Sell This House" on A&E next. Like these better than most of the programming on HGTV anyway.

And today and tomorrow we have Book TV on CSpan2! Never know what good stuff you'll find over there. And, now that I think of it, there are few books on my shelves that are crying for attention.

Steve said...

If you catch their attention ask them to bring back one of the finest gardening series "The Art and Practice of Gardening" with Penelope Hobhouse. (HG-TV). I also learned to cook from Julia, have all her books and remember her fondly from the early days in Cambridge, Mary Lois!

mulletman said...

I like the part, " My whole life seems like a show I carry everywhere......"

yo.not necessarily a food show?
I saw the video.

Mary Lois said...

Only a cooking show when I'm cooking, mulletman. It's the reality show called Life, which is not all that much of a reality show.

Yesterday I prepared a similar plate for lunch and decided to try what Steve #1 said, to take a picture of it for the blog. Got the food all hot, place set, ready to do food photography when my camera said, "Change batteries." I saw steam coming off the plate, smelled the smells of the upcoming meal and succumbed to the urge to eat it and think about taking pictures another time.

And Karen--Thanks to you I've discovered the channel called CREATE, which is great, and feel quite satisfied with Lydia Bastianich, Jacques Pepin, Ming Si, and the guy called Calemeco too on PBS (and no commercials!). Yesterday as usual I checked out the Sell This House on A&E and the h & g shows on TLC and other spots on the dial. Like the travel shows and the old movies too.