Bill Buford takes a look at "the rise of food television," in the current issue ( October 2, 2006) of The New Yorker. ( A long gluttonous look, as apparently Bill watched 72 hours of continuous food tv.)
In all fairness, you should know that I have only glimpsed in passing some of the food shows, as our house invites in only very limited cable. At other full throttle cable-invaded homes, I have flitted past some food shows, utterly unengaged by the sight of a person chopping, stirring, or blending, and always wondering why on earth anyone would want to watch someone on a screen cook. No aromas, no chatting, no nibbling possible as when, say, watching a friend cook live and in person.
Now indeed, I may have learned to cook by hanging around the kitchen while my mother did so, maybe by osmosis, as I was not taking notes or even particularly paying attention. As a student in Italy, I also lingered in the kitchen observing the preparation of what then were to me utterly exotic artichokes. Later on, when I lived in Belgium, my cooking was influenced by two American expats who really knew their stuff. Perhaps today's socially detached citizens are looking to teevee when once they relied on actual people.
In any event, I want to pass on to you Buford's final words :
"Never in our history as a species have we been so ignorant about our food. And it is revealing about our culture that, in the face of such widespread ignorance about a human being’s most essential function—the ability to feed itself—there is now a network broadcasting into ninety million American homes, entertaining people with shows about making coleslaw. "
( Thanks to www.boston.com for the illustration.)