Sunday, March 4, 2007

On Fish and Barrels

Update, 4/22/08. If you're among the one-quarter of my readership who found your way here because, for reasons far beyond understanding or explaining, you were googling for the extraordinarily disturbing photo of Herself that adorns this post: Welcome. I hope the pic is all you wanted it would be.

But really now. Rachael Ray? Are you fucking kidding? I can't fathom this. There's a far hotter and more suggestive pic of Padma Lakshmi on this blog, and it gets no hits! None! What the hell is wrong with you, you bunch of hairy-palmed troglodytes? If RayRay gets more attention from the typing-with-one-hand crowd than Padma, then I just don't know what the world is coming to. The terrorists have won.

(And no, I'm not going to link to that photo of Padma. You have to look for it, you pathetic little wanker.)

The original post follows...



Well, here I was, all set to turn out a nice reasoned defense of Rachael Ray. I was going to start by saying that once you get past the profoundly annoying way she presents herself, her basic technique is pretty sound, especially her knife skills. I was planning to voice appreciation for the example she sets by getting her mise en place together before she cooks anything: we see her wandering around her kitchen as she's talking about her menu, gathering stuff out of the fridge and pantry, putting it all where she can get to it when she needs it. As opposed to Giada De Laurentis, for example, who seems to have a staff of cherubim to put all of her ingredients into beautiful containers before she raises her elegantly cheekboned head from her satin pillow and botticellis into her kitchen on a big scallop shell.

I was also going to say how much I like it that RayRay cooks in real time. None of this putting a casserole in the oven and pulling out a finished one that was cooked earlier. I was going to boldly admit that I've learned a few cool little tricks from watching her cook. I was even going to say that in the near future I'll probably cook the entire menu from the episode of 30-Minute Meals I just watched: Cod en papillote with olives, fennel, onions, and garlic (which RayRay of course has to call "Cod in a Sack"), and a tasty-looking salad of steamed green beans, steamed asparagus, red onions, and tomatoes, tossed with a basil vinaigrette. Nothing wrong with that stuff at all.

I was going to lament the expansion of the Rachael Ray brand -- the talk show, the travel show, the Triscuits boxes adorned with her grinning visage -- and humbly suggest that in spite of all that anyone making the effort to show how easy and fulfilling it can be to cook decent food with honest ingredients is a force for good in the universe.

Then I found this:


(More Dork Tower here. Apologies to John Kovalic for the layout edit; Blogger wanted to make the strip illegibly small.)

16 comments:

Di said...

Right now I'm watching this interesting show on Food Network called "The Secret Life of Garlic." Except that it's hosted by Jim O'Connor and the first several times I encountered him were in those eyeball-pookingly inane RCN commercials where he shows you how to set up your voicemail. So I'm having a really hard time enjoying this show because to me, he is not a Food Network host, he's a B-list cable company commercial actor. What this has to do with your post is not immediately making itself known to me.

An Briosca Mor said...

Hey, Diana! Did that garlic show have any insight into what might be going on with the garlic in my fridge? (http://anbrioscamor.blogspot.com/2007/03/ticking-time-bomb-in-my-fridge.html)

As for Rachael Ray, as y'all know I don't have cable so I haven't seen her cooking show, ever. But if this is how she dresses for it, maybe I should be getting cable. (Although I don't think I would be learning anything about cooking from her show, though. The food would not be why I'd be drooling...)

I just recently finished a book called The United States of Arugula. (Discussed on eGullet at http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=93488) The book basically traces the history of how we became the food nation we are today. One of the points it makes about the TV chef phenomenon is that it has been a great leveler in terms of culinary reputation for those chefs or pseudo-chefs who've been involved in it, i.e. those with real chef bona fides such as Emeril (who has something like nine restaurants to his credit) are brought down a notch, while those with no real chef experience such as Ms. Ray are brought up to the same level, or even higher.

The one person who seems to have escaped this pattern (IMHO anyway, the book never said this) is Bourdain. I've never seen him on TV, but I've read his books and seen him in person at a book signing, and it seems that if anything his actual experience (as a real chef, not a "super chef" but rather just a blue-collar working guy) has been embellished rather than diminished in terms of where his reputation sits today. I think this is because he is the ultimate straight shooter. He tells what's good and bad without ever saying, as most celebrity chefs do, "I'm the greatest" or "My way is best." Similarly, he never dumbs anything down, either. If it's easy or hard, over-rated or under-rated, he says so, no matter whose toes he might step on. So even though what he says might be controversial or on the edge, it's what a lot of people either are secretly thinking or wish they had the balls to say themselves. That kind of attitude engenders a lot of trust, actually...

Rob said...

That's a great book.

RayRay doesn't dress like that at all on her show. In fact, I think one of the most annoying thing about her is how she manages to absolutely desexualize cooking and eating; her show conveys nothing of the deep sensual pleasure of food. Which probably makes her nonthreatening to certain kinds of people, hence her popularity.

Having watched a bunch of her shows, I found the the FHM pinup shots of her to be the furthest thing from a turnon. They seem kind of creepy and wrong to me. Maybe it's because I know what her voice sounds like. Maybe it's because some sick, morbid part of me wonders if she says "yummo" during sex.

Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew. Ok, I've got to go wash my hands now.

Bourdain, of course, can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. He's a great, smart writer, and his no-bullshit attitude applies as much to himself as to anything else. I'm sure RayRay's legions of adoring fans are totally repulsed by him.

Di said...

(The pinup shot of RayRay is photoshopped... that's not her body)

Rob said...

Reference, please?

Di said...

I can't remember, but I've seen that one before and there's also a similar one of Martha Stewart wearing nothing but an apron leaning over to open the oven door. I experienced sudden-onset anorexia with that one :) But seriously, RayRay has never, ever been that thin.

Rob said...

Hm. I'm not sure I buy it. There was surely extensive Photoshopping going on to make her look thinner, clean up her skin, etc. (as demonstrated in this video), but actually sticking her head on someone else body and having it look even halfway realistic... nahh.

I may have to take that pic down. It makes my head hurt.

T said...

Ew, ew, ew, ew, EW! I don't even want to think of RR having sex. Not to mention that it'd have to only last half an hour ;-)

I don't care if that's her real body or not--either way, she's still vile. Rob, I think you're right--the voice has a lot to do with it.

Have any of you watched Emeril lately, speaking of whom? He seems drugged up and really snarky, and seems to alienate all his guests, particularly the "contest" winners. Arguably, the alienation isn't new, but he just seems tired and pathetic, and cooking some very vile things lately.

An Briosca Mor said...

Well, I can't comment on Emeril's recent behavior, since as I've mentioned ad nauseum I don't have cable. But I can mention that the stovetop smoker I have (that produced the smoked salmon some of y'all may have had at MD's or Lori's parties) is an Emirel(tm) brand product. I bought it in spite of that. However, I doubt I'll ever buy Rachael Ray(tm) brand ANYTHING. Except maybe insect repellent or somesuch. Maybe. If there was nothing else on the shelf.

Now, as far as NOLA celeb chefs go, Paul Prudhomme is way cool. I saw him live at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival a couple of years ago. They had to wheel him out on stage, and most of the actual cooking was done by his assistants, but he still rocked in a way that Emeril never has and never will.

Rob said...

Maybe Emeril's burning out. I sure would be. I used to loathe that guy, until the Food Network started coming out with dreck like "Semi-Homemade," which makes him look brilliant by contrast. I still think he's a great big ho, but at least he can cook.

Contrariwise, I can't imagine Anthony Bourdain hawking his own brand of cookware or spices. Cigarettes, maybe.

An Briosca Mor said...

Not cigarettes. Rolling papers and tobacco.

Rob said...

HAHAHA! I stand corrected.

An Briosca Mor said...

Actually, also maybe little chia pet-like herb gardens too, for growing your own (tobacco or whatever).

Anonymous said...

I admit, I got here via google for the Ray image. It is like a car accident that involves circus clowns, zombies and pinatas: I can't look away from the bizarre horror, yet I want to look away to save my sanity.

WTF? Did people actually buy the magazine this image was in for her pics? It is just so unsexy, somehow. Urk. I feel dirty, and not in the good way.

Rob said...

Yeah, you've pretty much nailed the aesthetic at work here. It's like Jeff Koons-esque porn kitsch, only worse because it's not meant to be ironic. ::Shudder::

Anonymous said...

I really don't think she is all that annoying. At all really. In fact she is very attractive and would have loved to be her husband.