I caught the first episode ("One Billion Foodies") of Diary of a Foodie yesterday on PBS and found it to be both good and bad at the same time. I'm not sure how that's possible, but that was my reaction. The bad: The show tried way too hard to be hip and cool. The camera work was annoying. All the shots of faces were so tight either the face didn't fit in the frame, or off center, so you saw half a face. And they kept framing an object (a branch, a vegetable) and changing the focus from the foreground to the background, over and over. At the end of the program, Ruth Reichl introduced some common sauces in Chinese cooking and the saturation was out of control. And they must have used the word "foodie" a billion times. If the show had been longer than half an hour, my eyes and ears may have started to bleed.
On the plus side, the people they visited in China (a rural doctor outside of Beijing, a traditional dumpling maker, a Peking duck specialist in Beijing, and a "New Shanghainese" chef in Shanghai) were really interesting. I loved the shots of a woman cooking an entire meal in a wood-fired wok in the countryside, as people have done for eons in China. And it was great to watch the prep work that goes into making the Peking duck. During the scene about dumpling-making, there was a great, unforced banter between the visitors making their first dumplings (badly) and those that create hundreds of them a day. For me, the best parts of the show happened when they just let the camera roll on people making food in China.
I plan to watch the next few episodes, but I'm not convinced (yet) this is a must-watch program for me. Did you watch it? What did you think? Maybe I'm being too harsh…
The weekend's looming, you've got no plans. What to do? Make your own gummy worms.
When Michael Ruhlman finished up his blogging stint here in July, I was sad to see him go. It was great fun to have the opportunity to read frequent musings from one of my favorite food writers. But all along, my secret plan had been to get him addicted to the immediacy of blogging so he'd launch his own site. [Insert evil "mwah ha ha" laugh here.] Now I can announce I've succeeded: Ruhlman's very own blog is live! Yay!
Shacktoberfest begins today at the Shake Shack and runs through October 15th. The Shack will be serving special wursts, beers, and concretes. You know I'll be there at least once!
Dethorner, the perfect guide for the imperfect man, has been covering food all week. I've already linked to some stuff over there, but really you should check it all out. Lots of neat links, even if you're perfect or not a man.
The weakness exposed here is the weakness of a highly centralized food distribution system. Interview with Michael Pollan about the spinach E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak, organic fertilizer, and the risks of our food system. [via The Ethicurean]
In Defense of Food Network. "Buford can moan about dumbed-down cooks like Rachael Ray and Giada De Laurentiis replacing more traditional, gifted chefs on the Food Network’s programming menu or he can moan about how people don’t know how to cook anymore, but he can’t complain about both."
Thrillest has the scoop on how to pre-order your very own Jamon Iberico. They'll be available early next year, which should give you enough time to save the ~$750 an 8 lb. ham will cost you.
A close reader of this site knows that I am a liver fan. Recently at the Union Square Greenmarket, I happened upon Flying Pigs Farm. I'm not sure how I missed them before, but now they are in my weekly shopping rotation because they sell the most amazing liverwurst! "Mild seasonings mixed with equal parts of pork liver and jowl–nothing else! Traditional German recipe." Not only is it delicious, Flying Pigs Farm pigs are all rare heritage breeds, and the farm is Certified Humane Raised & Handled. That's some liverwurst you can feel good about. And your tummy will feel good about it too, as mine does nearly every day now when I have a liverwurst sandwich for lunch.