Food Network's doing a marathon of Paula Deen shows today, and I know she may grate on some people, but I just think she's adorable (I've been using that word for everybody lately -- I must have some kind of infection). Her southern accent is so pronounced, and I love the way she says "oil" and "salad." She's all about sentiment and family and cute, and is always slipping her dogs little treats while she cooks. Her food looks tasty and familiar, though it's mostly stuff I wouldn't eat every day because she has a winking lack of restraint. I caught one of her shows this evening in which she told her audience that there were two things that really inspired her to cook: her deep fryer ("I love, love, love my deep fryer!") and butter. 'Nuff said.
But even when she's not cooking and they're just doing a show about her recent wedding, I'm totally invested.
I am not invested, however, in Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee on Food Network. Oh, Sandra Lee. What are we going to do with you? (Maybe I am invested, but not in a good way.) This show's premise is food that's made with 70% ready-made ingredients mixed with 30% fresh foods. Which, I don't know, it's possible that some of this stuff is decent tasting. But at some point, isn't it just as easy to pick up some chili powder rather than using a paper packet of taco seasoning? She does stuff like that a lot. On one show, she scooped the filling out of a couple of store-bought pumpkin pies to use in a dessert. I'm sorry, that's just weird. Also, rather than throwing out the pie crust, she suggested we use them as a topping for ice cream or something...
There's just an air of desperation about her show. Every episode features "cocktail time" with a recipe for a mixed drink. She has 101 uses for vanilla vodka. And it doesn't matter what kind of meal/event/holiday she's planning -- Halloween, brunch, kid's birthday -- she has invited adults, and they must have alcohol, apparently. And absolutely everything has a theme. She's like a Vegas hotel that way. Everything must address the theme in a clear and color-coordinated way. I don't know what happens without the theme -- extra drinking I guess.
The theme leads inexorably to the last segment of the show -- the "tablescape." Before we go, Sandra must show us what her fevered imagination has done to the dining table. It is always crowded with centerpieces, elaborate place settings, fanciful napkins, many layered tablecloths, party favors, and other geegaws, all generally created especially for this occasion (from the craft store!) and all looking like they could never serve another purpose, unless she chose to throw the exact same party again some time. Girlfriend loves her some fabric and a glue gun.
If you don't believe me, ask these people.
One Food Network show I feel I should like better is Everyday Italian. It's hosted by Giada De Laurentiis who seems pleasant enough, but I'm distracted by her giant teeth. It isn't so much that they are excessively large, but that she speaks and smiles in such a way as to be emphasizing them all the time. Or maybe her whole head is out of proportion? Plus, of course, she's always putting something in her mouth. Teeth again! Can't handle it. Her food seems like it would be quite good; I really should try one of her recipes sometime.