Chris always stays up later than me, drinking whisky and watching documentaries. He claims the documentaries are relaxing, but I find them at best hilarious and at worst faintly disturbing – his favourite show is How It’s Made, in which a Canadian woman talks you through the manufacturing processes for a headspinning array of unconnected items. Potato salad, jet engines and garden gnomes, for example. Or glass eyes, canoes and astroturf. Or pewter tankards, marshmallows and paddling pools. The list is apparently endless. The weirdest thing is that all of the items are allocated the same amount of time, regardless of complexity; so there’ll be five minutes for an entire flatscreen TV, then five minutes of an old guy turning a wooden bowl.
Anyway, recently he’s developed a new late-night television interest that’s much better and that I can totally get on-board with. To the point that I suspect I’m slightly ruining his quiet time – it’s Food Network, and it’s our new default TV channel.
Here are the three best shows to watch on Food Network. Watch them. Watch them now:
Diners, Drive-ins & Dives
Do you like tattoos and retro diners and close-ups of red meat? Then have I got the show for you! Amiable man-bear Guy Fieri visits crazy food joints and eats things from the menu, always with his sunglasses somehow stuck to the back of his head. Every episode contains at least one septuagenarian who’s been stood flipping burgers for half a century but doesn’t seem to mind. Or a huge restaurant that’s owned by a couple of married teenagers. America!
Sadly, ‘Triple D’ isn’t on until 10pm most nights, which means we have to pass the time with these shows first…
Ina has the best life ever – Ina has a barbecue! Ina goes to a wedding! Ina invites some uptight friends round for brunch! You just can’t imagine Ina waiting for a bus or setting up a Direct Debit or dripping bin-water all over her shoes.*
As much as I like Ina’s recipes and fancy garden parties, my favourite thing is when her ‘husband Jeffrey’ (as she always refers to him) makes an appearance.
Apparently Jeffrey is a top professor and all-round boffin, but in the show he always has the air of a man who spends most of the day shut in a cupboard.
“I’m going to make a special cocktail for my husband Jeffrey… that’ll stop him clawing at the door handle for ten goddamn minutes.”
“I’ve sent my husband Jeffrey to get some artisan goat cheese. And if that rat-bastard comes back with mozzarella again, I’m taking away his wind-up radio.”
“Jeffrey, I’ve brought you my special deconstructed strawberry shortcake! Eat it, then turn back and face the wall.”
Poor Jeffrey! I’m sure his life is actually lovely and in-no-way spooky.
*Wikipedia tells me that Ina is a ‘former White House nuclear policy analyst’. Crikey.
Jenny Morris Cooks The Riviera
Jenny Morris tours the south of France, mispronouncing ‘moules’ and intimidating simple country folk with the sheer force of her sexual charisma. Every show is a mix of beautiful scenery, awkward interviews and orgastic descriptions of soft fruits.
I don’t always enjoy this show, but it’s impossible to look away.
Watch with caution:
Ching’s Restaurant Redemption
Ching-He Huang is mean to people who run slightly old-school Asian restaurants. I’ve never watched more than the first five minutes, so maybe the ‘redemption’ bit makes it less upsetting.
Anna Olson: Fresh
Anna can’t help that her name gets a weird ‘R’ added in by the continuity announcer (“Annar Rolsen”), but she can help being perpetually surprised by fresh produce. These apples are actually the ones she picked this morning! This carrot came straight from the farmer’s market! This seabass isn’t actively decomposing in front of our eyes! Wow!
That’s it – I’ve only been watching the Food Network for a couple of weeks, so let me know if you think I’m missing any other great (or terrible) shows and I’ll tune in.