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MasterChef 2009, the best and worst of food TV in 2008, and upcoming

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My favorite food TV show MasterChef is back for another round of competitive cooking fun! The hosts are John Torode and Gregg Wallace again, or Pasty and Toad as they are affectionately (or not) known in MasterChef fan circles. (I can’t remember who is Pasty and who is Toad though.) See my thoughts on the 2008 MasterChef finals and you’ll see why I love this show. I hope that 2009 will reveal equally exciting talents. continue reading...

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Some food TV news: Supersizers Go repeats, The Restaurant is back, more

Some food TV news for you if you live in the UK or regions of Europe that get British TV. The Supersizers Go is being repeated, The Restaurant is back for another round, and more. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go ... Regency

The sixth and final episode of The Supersizers Go was dedicated to the Regency period, the time of Jane Austen and the lecherous, gluttonous, foppish, trend-setting Prince Regent, later George IV. Again, Giles and Sue play a well off middle-upper class couple of the day—he is a small landowner with an inheritance of around £50,000—but instead of being married as in other episodes they are brother and sister. This is so that they can portray the difficult state of an unmarried woman (Sue) with not much of her own income. The cold and sometimes horrified expressions on her would-be suitors’ faces reacting to her desperate advances seemed a bit too genuine. Here she is trying to hang onto a gentleman.

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The Supersizers Go...Elizabethan

The erstwhile food time travellers went back to the earliest era covered in the Supersizers Go series, the Elizabethan period, which would be the equivalent of the Renaissance in the rest of Europe. It was a great time in British history, with adventurers exploring the world and bringing goods back from the New World, and the arts thriving, especially in the form of the Great Bard William Shakespeare.

It was also a quite exuberant and uninhibited society, one of the reasons why it’s one of my favorite periods in history. Here you see Sue Perkins contemplating Giles Coren’s massive codpiece with amusement.

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The Supersizers Go...to the 1970s, grooovy

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Near the end of the fourth episode of The Supersizers Go in which the food time travellers go to the 1970s, Sue Perkins says that she saw the ’70s through the banisters of the staircase, as she and her siblings peered downstairs at the goings on of the adults. This was how I experienced a good chunk of the ’70s too. I used to peer through the treads of the very ’60s open wooden staircase in the house my parents rented in Wokingham, Berkshire, head upside down, spying on my parents and their guests when they entertained.

In any case, the ’70s episode was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be, purely for the nostalgia value. I kept on squealing in recognition at many of the various foods trotted out. It did help that I actually spend a few years in the ’70s living in England with my family, since the Supersizers focused naturally on a very British version of that decade. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go...Victorian

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The third episode of The Supersizers Go was not as interesting to me as the previous two, simply because I knew a lot about how the Victorians ate already. I didn’t realize how much I knew until I’d watched the episode, but it’s all come down to us via Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and other period literature, not to mention Mrs. Beeton or even the American Fanny Farmer. Also, it doesn’t look like a whole lot changed between the Victorian era and the Edwardian period, which was covered in Edwardian Supersize Me. Still, those Victorians were sufficiently different from us in their eating habits to seem quite alien, but this was definitely the transitional period between the past and modern times. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go...Restoration: No water, lots of meat

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I was not intending to do a recap of each episode of The Supersizers Go, but they are so interesting and just right up my alley. So, if you don’t have access to BBC 2, are here for the Japanese recipes, or both, please indulge me. I’ll try to be brief. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go... on BBC Two: A fun look back at food in history

supersizers-1.jpg Giles, Sue and Allegra examine a week’s worth of rations during WWII.

Last year, a very interesting hour-long program(me) called Edwardian Supersize Me aired on BBC Four. Taking their cue from the hit documentary Supersize Me, Giles Coren, food critic for The Times, and writer/actress/comedienne Sue Perkins spent a week eating as the middle-class Edwardians did - meaning a lot. The pair are back, upgraded to BBC Two, in a new multipart series called The Supersizers Go…. The premise is the same as Edwardian Supersize Me - in each show Sue and Giles spend a week eating as people did in a certain historical era. The first episode aired last night, and the era was World War II. continue reading...

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Going Out For An English, the greatest restaurant sketch ever

Oh no, two YouTube posts in a row! Well on Saturday we went to an Indian restaurant in town, and invariably our favorite restaurant related video was brought up. Goodness Gracious Me (Wikipedia entry) was a half hour comedy sketch show that ran on BBC One and Two from 1998 to 2001. In case you have never heard of it and you’re in the U.S., it was a little bit like the ’90s comedy show In Living Color, except that the cast in GGM was almost all Asian (as in South Asian, or Indian), who also wrote all the sketches. It poked fun at many British and British-Asian things. One of the best routines was one that made fun of a typical outing to an Indian restaurant. This sketch is called Going Out for an English. I don’t think you have to be Asian (as in South Asian) or British to find it funny…it’s how a lot of people still behave, at any ‘ethnic’ restaurant!

“What is the Blandest Thing you have on the menu?”

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Whatever lame April Fools' jokes you may encounter today, there is none better than the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

Today, you will be encountering many lame (and perhaps a handful of not-lame) April Fools’ Day jokes. But there really is none better, than the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.

I know I keep bringing it up every year on this day, but it really is that good.

Here’s a fairly acceptable YouTube version:

continue reading...

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Pondering the new Delia Smith, plus acceptable cooking shortcuts

While I was mostly lounging around for the past week, I did get to catch up on a lot of TV. One of the shows I’ve cleared from my DVR is the new one from Delia Smith on BBC Two. continue reading...

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The winner of MasterChef 2008 is....

The three finalists of the BBC’s MasterChef 2008 wait anxiously for the winner to be proclaimed…

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Kill It, Cook It, Eat It is back too

I just realised that Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, the BBC Three show that brings you into a real working abattoir, is also back for another series (season) starting tonight at 10:30PM BT/11:30PM CET (also repeated at 12:45AM/1:45AM). I mentioned it yesterday as one of my top food TV shows of last year. It will be shown every night for this week, and the lineup looks interesting, to say the least. They are going for the baby animals…

  • Monday (today): Suckling Pig
  • Tuesday: Kid Goat
  • Wednesday: Veal
  • Thursday: Milk Fed Lamb
  • Friday: Omnibus (recap of the week I guess)

For more information, see the BBC Three site.

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The return of MasterChef, plus the best food TV shows of 2007

My favorite food tv show is back! Plus, a look back at the best and worst of food television in 2007. continue reading...

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Heston Blumethal's wacky Christmas

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The nuttiest TV food show I’ve ever seen aired last night. Despite the rather somber mood around here these days, we were laughing out loud several times as we watched it. If you missed it you’ll want to catch a rerun. continue reading...

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The Edwardians and their food on BBC Four

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BBC Four is running a series of program(me)s about the Edwardians, and two of those are about the food of the era. They have already aired but will be repeated several times as most BBC Four shows are. Both are well worth watching for anyone interested in food and history.

Edwardian Supersize Me is the showier of the two. Giles Coren, food critic for The Times, and TV presenter Sue Perkins lived the life of well-off Edwardians for a week, and ate like the Edwardians of the upper-middle class did - in Sue’s case while wearing a corset. Their in-house meals were cooked by famed food writer Sophie Grigson, from an Edwardian housekeeping book, and they also ate out frequently since this was the era when restaurant dining became popular in England. continue reading...

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Enjoy the Swiss spaghetti harvest

This Sunday is April Fool’s Day. Too bad it’s on a weekend, since that reduces the opportunities for good old office fun. I am going to take the weekend off again from the online world, but in the meantime enjoy the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest from the archives. The weather’s been so nice, maybe I’ll go down to the Ticino to check out this year’s crop…

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The Winner of Masterchef 2007 is...

[Update: Steven has a very gracious post about his win on his blog.]

The winner of Masterchef 2007 is Steven Wallis, a trend analyst from London. Here’s how he looked when he was proclaimed the victor.

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As with previous seasons the final three-course original menu test was the one deciding factor for determining the winner. While both Ben and Hannah tripped up a bit on at least one of their courses, Steven really excelled with all three of his dishes.

Unlike last season, where the perceived failings of eventual winner Peter in tasks leading up to that final three-course test lead to some dissatisfaction about his being declared the winner over crowd favorite (and hottie) Dean, this season’s finalists were fairly even in the tasks during the final week. For me at least there was no clear favorite going into the final episode. continue reading...

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Masterchef Goes Large 2007 finale is tonight!

A quick reminder to everyone within viewing range of BBC Two: the one hour finale of Masterchef Goes Large 2007 is on tonight at 21:00 CET / 20:00 BT! Will it be artistic but palate-deficient Ben, passionate but nervous Hannah, or the man with a fine palate who has a problem with time management, Steven? It’s too close to call…and besides last year we all thought Dean was going to win and Peter won instead, so who knows what will happen? Although I haven’t written much about this season, it’s been a great one, with some amazing challenges. I’m really looking forward to tonight!

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A Taste Of My Life is yet another great BBC food show

A Taste Of My Life, currently airing daily at 19:30 CET / 18:30 BT on BBC Two and repeated the next afternoon, is a show that’s almost perfect. The show ran originally on BBC One last year, but I missed most of it since it aired on Saturday afternoons, not a good time slot for any TV program.

Hosted by well known food writer Nigel Slater, A Taste Of My Life is a warm, comforting show with lots of food porn, that traces the life of a featured celebrity through his or her relationship with food. continue reading...

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MasterChef Goes Large 2007 (Season 3) starts today

Update: The season is over and the winner is announced.

masterchef_presenters_300x193.jpgMasterChef Goes Large, the best competitive cooking show on television today*, starts its third round today. If you live in the U.K. continue reading...

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TV: Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection

heston1.jpgHeston Blumenthal makes aerated chocolate with a vacuum cleaner, among other things continue reading...

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TV: The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton

mrsbeeton.jpg Mrs. Beeton attempts to hack off the head of a turtle, one of the skills required of a homemaker in Victorian times, as her maid looks on anxiously. (don't worry, she couldn't go through with it) continue reading...

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Isabella Beeton, Fanny Cradock, and Elizabeth David on the BBC

fannycradock_bbc.jpg Julia Davis as Fanny Cradock in Fear of Fanny continue reading...

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Food and being green on the BBC

I am eternally grateful that the BBC broadcasts free-to-air on satellite, and that I live within reception range. I feel a bit guilty that I don't have to pay anything to view the Beeb as UK residents do, and believe me if they started to bill me something I'd pay it without question. The BBC has the best programming, bar none, of any network I've ever seen in any country. (I'm even a closet East Enders watcher, but don't tell anyone.) continue reading...

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The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

spaghetti_harvest1.jpg Today is April Fool's Day of course. Every year this day rolls around I remember the best food-related April Fool's hoax ever: the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest documentary broadcast by the BBC. continue reading...

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MasterChef wrapup

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MasterChef is the BBC cooking contest program to find the "best amateur chef in the UK", ended last Friday. The winner was Peter Bayless, a 60 year old former advertising executive. His selection was quite a surprise to a lot of people, and the discussion about this on the BBC Food message boards has been quite heated, to put it mildly.

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Closing thoughts on my MasterChef challenge

Seven weeks ago, when the second season of the UK food contest show MasterChef Goes Large started, I set myself a personal challenge: to play along and make a dish (or for the last week, 2 dishes) with the list of ingredients provided in the Invention Test that was the first part of the preliminary rounds. I've made 26 different dishes, based on 23 different ingredient lists (I skipped one day). continue reading...

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Masterchef challenge, day 16: Liver with Balsamic Vinegar

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[Edit:] The picture is really sub-par. It's hard to take a good picture of liver. Sorry. :(

It's day 16 of Masterchef. The ingredients: continue reading...

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Masterchef challenge, day 10: Vegetable and Mussel Risotto

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It's day 10 of MasterChef, and the ingredients were: continue reading...

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