Cooking Channel First Impressions: Part One

Yesterday, the Fine Living Network became the Cooking Channel. Since the one decent thing FLN showed - reruns of Japanese Iron Chef - will still be airing on Cooking Channel, this is an unmitigated win for everyone with cable except the three people who watched FLN's constant reruns of The Biggest Loser.

For their debut, the channel ditched what looks to be a regular schedule of Food Network castoffs, foreign acquisitions, and original programming for a smorgasbord marathon preview of the relatively new stuff. I taped most of it, and will be evaluating them here as I watch. I managed to see four shows yesterday:

INDIAN FOOD MADE EASY:

These are actually reruns of a British series I saw on BBC America a year or so ago. I like this show a lot, although it's a bit indistinct on the actual recipes. But the techniques and general information are good for a decent grounding in Indian or British-Indian basics.

The only problem is, unless BBC America was holding out on us, there are only like ten of these total.

CHINESE FOOD MADE EASY:

Obviously in the same series, but I'd never seen it before. I was a bit underwhelmed at first, because the emphasis seemed to be "why buy takeout when you can buy bell peppers and a wok", but there were a couple of very good ideas I'd never seen before - specifically pulverizing roasted soybeans as a crust for meat, which I totally want to try sometime.

FRENCH FOOD AT HOME:

The first episode I watched of this featured wildly impractical recipes I have no chance in hell of cooking. The host is irritating too - clearly aiming for a Giada/Nigella flirty-in-a-tight-top thing, but completely unsuccessful. And I can't place her accent. It's somewhere between Celine Dion and Pee Wee Herman, and very off-putting.

Not as off-putting as their inexplicable decision to bring up the vaguely scatty (in every sense of the word) theme music in for random fifteen second bursts. It's a lot like a Jamie Oliver show in that regard, actually. And not in a good way.

The second episode was marginally better in the recipe selection, but even more irritating in the host's forced quirks department, so, yeah, this show can fuck right back off to, I believe, Canada.

BILL'S FOOD:

I think Bill's Australian, but I'm not sure, because it's hard to concentrate while being crushed under the weight of his accent. His first ep started with muesli, I got bored, and tuned out during what, upon rewinding, looked like an awful fried rice.

Three minutes into the second half, he'd dumped a can of tuna into a mix of short-grain rice and canned tomatoes and called it a baked risotto. I call it disgusting. He made, by my count, eight dishes in half an hour, all of them hasty, sloppy, and unappealing.

I mean, yeah, I throw piles of unrelated crap in a pot and call it "rustic", but one, I'm being ironic, and two, nobody gave me a TV show.

I've heard good things about their original programming, so I'm hoping the shows from later in the day are as interesting as they look.

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Roasted soybeans

...taste like less complex roasted pumpkin seeds. I have a bag of lightly salted dry-roasted edamame at work. I keep intending, yet forgetting, to bring some cumin-based seasoning from home with which to zotz them up (garam masala or chili powder or Penzey's Turkish seasoning,) as "lightly salted" gets old after a while, and you can't eat too many at once or you end up with a mouth full of soy flour. I mean, they're not at all bad, with lots less fat than nuts, but I have been spoiled by my vegetarian diet to expect lots of flavor. The Lutherans who live on meat and potatoes in whose cafeteria I found the edamame probably think they're exotic.

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