Thursday, 29 May 2008

Cooking shows... mmmm

There's an article in The Guardian today which purports to pit Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall against Gordon Ramsey. The piece sort of half-heartedly argues that Gordon is casting his new zero tolerance stance on non-seasonal produce as original thought, when it's been Hugh's policy for years. I can only assume this article is the product of some unspoken but widespread UK newspaper rule which dictates that each edition must contain at least one article mentioning the following persons:

- Gordon Ramsey (describing him as foul-mouthed);
- Amy Winehouse (preferably photographed at her least flattering angle); and
- Kate Middleton (that's a tough one because she rarely seems to do anything at all interesting).

Maybe this rule is actually dictated by the advertisers. Who knows. Anyway, the reason I noticed it was because we actually watched the first episode of Hugh's new TV show River Cottage Spring last night, and I was shocked - shocked! - to see Hugh openly have a go at Celebrity Cooking's former first lady, Delia Smith. Not because I think Delia is awesome and un-challengeable (on the contrary), but just because usually, cooking shows are all about the soothing sizzle of the frying pan and the encouraging, confident voice of the chef making you think YOU TOO could whip up foie gras-stuffed quail with fennel and licorice using ingredients from your own garden!

So Hugh made two Shepherd's Pies - his mum's old Shepherd's Pie recipe, dutifully using the leftover Sunday roast lamb and home-grown potatoes, and Delia's version from her controversial new book, which happens to be based on canned minced lamb (fortified with glucose and preservatives!!) and frozen mash. He then planned to serve both of them to the same diners without first explaining the origins of each recipe. I was totally rooting for Hugh's, in case it wasn't obvious.

The only problem was, he cooked them for a rabble whose favourite foods seem to range from chicken nuggets to chips and no further. And he burnt them, because he cooked them outdoors in dutch ovens. So the ending was sort of anti-climactic... the final score was Hugh's mum - 7 votes, Delia - 5.

Oh well. I might have to continue to count on Gordon for my culinary controversy from now on.

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