People do not cook food any more. They eat it, right enough, but people in the richer postcodes don’t actually do any of the cobbling together of ingredients like they used to. “Richer postcodes”, in this instance includes everywhere they don’t have to carry water back from a stream, five miles from their homes, in buckets on their heads.
As the quantity of calories consumed has gone up, so has the time taken in preparing it gone down. It is an inverse relationship, like two poets in love.
Since the 1980’s, which is, ooh…YEARS ago now, what we eat has morphed from being something that came in many bags and needed to be assembled so that the result was greater than its constituent parts, to being a dollop of pre-made brown goop in a box that we heat in the microwave for two minutes while standing in front of it tutting that it is taking too long.
Our relationship with the food that we eat is as dysfunctional as a Ukip advert.
This is weird because the only programmes on television that are not traipsing around looking at homes that people aren’t going to buy, are those showing viewers how to prepare dinner. There’s Big Cook, Little Cook for tall and short or fat and thin; Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook for five year-olds having a tantrum. There is Chinese Food Made Easy and Chinese Food in Minutes, both of which sound like adverts for the Weng Wah Ping Pong on the High Street.
If you want your food prepared with added spice and oaths, then how about the swear-fest that is Gordon Ramsey? He has more shows on telly than the news. You could get some Gordon in your life by watching, The F Word, Gordon’s Ultimate Cookery course, or his Cookalong Live, or there is Gordon Behind Bars and its obvious follow up: Gordon’s Great Escape.
You could watch all of these shows but what is the point? You aren’t going to write any of this stuff down and you absolutely are not going to try to, you know, actually cook any of it.
Perhaps it is his delivery that is putting people off. Maybe there’s too much testosterone dripping over his offerings. How about that nice Jamie? No-one called Jamie has ever been even remotely nasty and you would be hard pressed to turn the TV on and NOT be confronted with the mockney geezer’s gor blimey patter.
Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals take too long? How about Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals? A whole plate of personally constructed food in the time it takes to explain your pizza order to the Lithuanian in Dominos. You couldn’t eat a tub of ice cream and have time to feel guilty about it afterwards in fifteen minutes.
Maybe it is his overwhelming personality that is putting people off copying him. Maybe it is that his tongue doesn’t fit in his mouth. Either way, his books sell like the hot cakes no-one is making and his television shows are as popular as free money and STILL his fans won’t bash pots in the pursuit of sating their hunger.
Maybe an element of competition might do the trick? There’s no end of them: Iron Chef UK, Ready Steady Cook, and the unbelievably successful Great British Bake Off. I say “unbelievably” because if we refuse to warm up some vegetables for a meal, then we will definitely not be doing any baking any time soon, because baking is the surest route to ruinous disappointment outside of consulting a financial advisor.
Can I interest you in some sex? If mumsey chumminess doesn’t get you going, then how about some bedroom eyes to get you into the kitchen?
Nigella Lawson has this totally wrapped up. She is pouty and booby and naughty and lip-licky and oozes over her food so much that sauce comes as standard in any of her dishes.
Then there is Paul Hollywood, for those viewers that have given up on marrying George Clooney and would prefer their hot buns to come out of the oven, and not be honed in the gym. His eyes are permanently set to maximum twinkle and ladies of a certain age find him as irresistible as the pies he makes.
The list of cookery shows is so vast that it also has space for collaborations that you would not think could possibly succeed. Would you like your dinner prepared by a hairy biker? How about two fat ladies – normally a demographic that television is allergic to? Or what about a science nerd in shouty glasses that tosses your salad with a cement mixer in space?
TV is absolutely stuffed to the gills with instructional shows on preparing your food and yet the single most popular item we enjoy for our major meals is the sandwich, and we don’t even make those! The next most preferred plate is one covered in the contents of the ready-meal box that we’ve just nuked in the microwave.
It seems that, with all those cookery shows on TV to keep up with, there just is no time left in the day to do any actual cooking.
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