Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Watching People Eat

February 20, 2008

Maybe there are people out there in television-watching-land who really enjoy the numerous shows and segments of shows in which people stick food into their mouths and then try to describe to the viewers what they're experiencing.

They carefully close their lips over the bite (thank goodness and Emily Post) and then roll their eyes to the heavens and chew. This part gets tricky because they have to get most of the bite down before they start talking. Usually they use this time to make odd "mmmm" sounds, close their eyes, and try to think of something not obscene-looking to do while we wait for them to clear the mouth and talk to us.

Then, food removed, they start saying bizarre things like, "There's this gentle flow of spice followed by a little kick..." which is supposed to enlighten us about the experience of eating.

I cannot understand why there are so many shows that feature this embarrassingly un-entertaining display. There are restaurant shows, where the host, usually an affable enough person, goes to some restaurant, orders something, then goes through the eating-for-the-camera exercise described above, and tells us how to go to a restaurant. Or how to put food in our mouths. Or how to taste it. All of which most self-respecting adults have long since learned how to do.

There are cooking shows in which abnormally slim people demonstrate a recipe and then start eating it for our pleasure.

Two exceptions to the above tirade, in my view, are people I don't mind telling me what they're eating or how the food they cook tastes. These are Anthony Bourdain, whose show is more a cultural exchange than a food show, and Paula Deen, who so obviously enjoys scarfing down that fattening food that she can joke about it.

But a show based on watching people eat is a bad idea. When I catch myself watching such a show, I worry about my life.

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