I obviously enjoy cooking. This site would not exist if both Georgia and I did not get pleasure from pottering around in the kitchen. But my obsession with cookery shows runs deeper than that.
I watch them all. Nigella. Nadiya. Saturday Kitchen. Mary Berry. Australian Masterchef (the best food programme on TV). Sunday Brunch. Rick Stein. Etc etc etc.
Aside from the aesthetic pleasure these programmes provide, they are actually great places to learn about flavour. I cannot possibly afford the ingredients in many of the recipes on Saturday Kitchen but that does not mean I can’t learn about what flavours go with what other ones.
If all the chefs use tarragon in chicken dishes, then I know these flavours go together. If they all go for honey on their carrots, obviously this is a combination that works.
Why does this matter ? Well, I live on a really limited budget (Covid and cancer and a right wing Government will do that to you) so I want to make the most of my very tight food budget to ensure I eat as well as I can whilst not spending much money.
Everyone knows tomato and basil are brilliant together. Margarita pizza is just that combination. But cuisines like Indian and Thai require a much greater level of knowledge to get the flavours that make these cuisines so distinctive. And that is where cookery programmes come in.
As much as I love a gorgeous cookbook, they are expensive and I can’t afford them. But I can watch Nadiya make a delicious biryani on the BBC and understand the spices needed for the base flavours to turn rice into something more interesting. Or I can watch The Great British Bakeoff and understand what spices and herbs will turn a basic biscuit into something really outstanding.
Of course, I would love to live on smoked salmon, wagu beef and lobster. But it isn’t going to happen in the near future. But, because of cookery programmes, I can turn some pasta or rice into a delicious meal with a limited number of ingredients and a few herbs, spices, or sauces.
Yes, cookery programmes are food porn. But, for people like me, they are also an educational tool which allow me to eat much more interesting food. And that must be a good thing.