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.
Take for example last night's episode, with guest John Barrowman a.k.a. Jack Harkness from Torchwood. He's a Scot who has an American accent since he grew up in the States, and has dual citizenship both literally and food-wise. He talks about what food he grew up with, what food he craves, memorable food moments. Interspersed are video messages from people near and dear to him: his parents, his sister, a close friend. They also cook and eat the food - a chicken cream casserole that his mother used to make (they made it with a proper roux, though I'm positive his mother originally made it with Campbell's Cream Of Chicken or Mushroom soup); a vegetable pizza a la his sister; a steak pie like his Scottish grandparents used to make. After a hilarious anecdote about gorging on caviar in the first class section of a plane with Shirley Bassey, John and Nigel ate toast points with caviar. The show ended with a Last Meal spread - in John's case he wanted steak, sautéed fois gras and crispy duck salad.
Watching the show I couldn't get rid of a vague feeling that it was very familiar somehow. I know now why: this show is just like reading many food blogs. Many food bloggers write about the food that was memorable to them as they grew up, or food they enjoyed with their friends and family. Some food bloggers get quite emotional about the food, and about the memories. This show is just like that, with the only difference being it's about a 'celebrity', and it's on TV. It also reminded me of Nigel Slater's book The Kitchen Diaries (UK link), which in turn reminded me in many ways of a well written food blog on paper.
The only thing that stops A Taste Of My Life from being perfect, is, unfortunately, the host. I love Nigel Slater's writing, and he does come off on air as being warm and quite adorable, but he's just not a very good live interviewer. On the other hand, the celebs may open up to him a bit more because he is so well, cuddly.
Incidentally, Richard E. Grant, who was the featured celeb in the first episode, has a very odd habit of putting his face almost IN the food and sniffing deeply - it almost looks like the food is going to go up his nose!
I do hope that this show will make it to BBC America, BBC Prime and other international BBC outlets. Even though the featured celebs are mostly British, they should be interesting watching for any food lover. I keep saying this, but a lot of other people trying to program interesting food shows could learn from what the Beeb does.