Friday, 21 March 2008

How to cheat at cooking on television

Honestly, what is going on with that new Delia programme? It is breath-takingly, depressingly, squirmingly awful. The so-called recipes are patronisingly straightforward - more food assembly than cooking - and are so reliant on heavily-processed convenient (excuse me, cheat's) ingredients that I can't imagine how much each "dish" must cost to turn out.

Jamie, Gordon, Heston et al. are making aspirational food that we might one day be cool or sexy enough to make - or at the very least, food that is entertaining to watch being made, food that looks fun and exciting on the plate. By contrast, Delia is making the food we make when we just can't be bothered, when we're too drunk, or too broke to care what it looks like, what it tastes of. It's food we all know how to make, because we all know how to open a packet of frozen potato wedges. I mean, it's so low-brow it's practically Cro-Magnon (yes, I know. Just work with me on this one).

The end product of one of her recipes actually looked like something my dog used to produce. I wish I was joking.

What makes the whole farce even more frightening is that someone, somewhere was pitched the idea for this show, and they actually commissioned it. Someone must have watched the programme before transmission. And they still chose to broadcast it! Any one of a hundred people I can think of right now could present this show with as much competence as Delia, and more charisma. Frankly, an 8 year old child could do the job at least as well - and provide far more entertaining lifestyle inserts for the show (don't get me going on that, it's just too horrible. Why those segments weren't permanently eradicated from history in the editing suite is another of life's great mysteries).

All of which is made possible by the unique way the BBC is funded.

I was thinking of submitting the following recipe for inclusion in the next series, but after the one programme I accidentally watched - pinned to my chair, horrified - I haven't dared watch any more. For all I know, it might already have featured.

Crisp Sandwiches

You will need:
1 bag of crisps (get an adult to open it for you if you need)
2 slices of bread (pre-buttered is best)

To make the dish, place one slice of bread on your worksurface and begin laying the crisps on top of it until it's fairly evenly covered. Once you've done that, place the second slice on top (I like to line up the tops of the slices, so that it looks neat) and press down lightly until the crisps crack a little. Slice at an angle and serve immediately.

Cheat's info:Bread can be bought pretty much anywhere these days, and often comes ready sliced - this is the best sort because you don't have to bother (and you wouldn't do it properly even if you did try). If you can't find pre-buttered bread in your local supermarket or deli, you can order it from Timbuktu, where they make the best bread, and slice it brilliantly, too.

Cheat's tip: Bread keeps well in the freezer. Make sure you slice it before you freeze it, and then you can take out only as much as you need.

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