Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rachael Ray - The Philosopher Cook

Oh my, I do have to wonder what's happening to me. When I see Rachael Ray in non-food settings, I don't loathe her. Perhaps it was in contrast to Larry King last night, but she came off as extremely down-to-earth AND THOUGHTFUL. Wow! More about that in a moment.

Larry asked some really inane questions. The top one was, as he was touring her television talk show kitchen, "Do you always cook something new everyday?" "No, Larry, of course not, I just use the same 3 recipes and hope that people won't notice." What a moron. She was actually so held aghast by that question that she said, "Oh my gravy, yes." Naturally, he had never heard THAT expression before.

But in retrospect, maybe it wasn't such a dumb question after all. What I hate most about RR's cooking is that it's all much of a muchness - with burgers in many different horrible guises, topping the list. But Larry didn't know that about her, so from him it was a really stupid question.

She went on to talk about what a great life she has, and how she can do her 3 favorite things: chat, cook and travel.

As they go to a break, Larry puts up a question for his audience. Get a load of this - "What is EVOO?" I'm sure he's the only one that doesn't know the answer.

What WAS slightly shocking however, was Rachael's answer. When asked, "What is EXTRA virgin olive oil?", she said - really quickly, as if trying to brush right by it - "It hasn't been filtered."

Now here is the person who is responsible for adding EVOO to the dictionary, for Pete's sake, and she doesn't actually know what it is. EXTRA virgin olive oil comes from the first cold pressing of the olives and, as an aside, is less than 1% acid. The lower the acidity, the higher quality the olive oil. The acidity of olive oil is labelled everywhere but the United States. Look at your U.S purchased olive oil, there's no acidity number anywhere on the label. The next time you're in Spain, Italy or Greece, you will see the acidity level prominently displayed on the jar or can.

AND, notwithstanding RR's explanation, extra virgin olive oil CAN be filtered OR unfiltered. This is very disheartening to me...that she inspires legions of fans to "cook", but that she doesn't know the basic facts about "EVOO". I'm not saying Larry would have understood the answer, but still...

Despite that idiotic question AND answer, here's where the philosophy part comes in. Larry asked how RR felt about all the tabloid reports of her marriage falling apart. She claims she's not at all bothered by them. Here's why:

"My grandfather had a great rule. You have two choices in life. You can either laugh or you can cry. You gotta really choose what you cry about. To waste your time (worrying about the tabloids) is just silly."

I hate to say it, but that really resonated with me. So many people bellyache about their lot in life. They complain about EVERYTHING. I think RR is right when she says you have to pick your battles. You have to choose what to get upset about, because, otherwise, you're dissipating all your energy for stuff that just isn't important.

I guess it's kinda hard to disagree with her about that. From many reports, she does live her life like that. She IS an awful cook, but I don't think that makes her an awful person. Am I actually softening on Rachael Ray? Does that make ME an awful person? But I do think she should read up on her cooking facts, especially on a product that actually has her name on it.


Bake your cake and eat it too said...

Your posts about Ingrid and Rachel Ray are so hilirious but so truthful. I could not have said it better. I have yet to watch Ingrids show, but from what I've heard and read, I'm not missing much. :-)

Cynthia said...

RR has her moments and no you're not being an awful person :)

Sue said...


You are definitely not missing anything by not watching Ingrid, especially if you're at all interested in Latin food.

Hi Cyn,
Thanks for the shoutout and the great recipe.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

At times I think I'm a little harsh on RR. I have always found her mannerisms annoying and phony. I also take issue with the fact that people think she's a good cook, or think that if mediocrity is good enough for her, it's good enough for them. People worship her and her disgusting food because she is the "girl next door." They believe her when she says her food is healthful even though she covers everything in cheese and oil (I don't care if olive oil is monounsaturated, it still has calories and drowning your food in it is not "figure friendly"). She's not the girl next door. She makes $6mm a year with very little talent as either a cook or a performer (even Ingrid Hoffman knows how to perform and Alton and Emeril are true showmen). It's like people who voted for GWB because he's the kind of guy they want to have a beer with. Being a guy you want to have a beer with doesn't make you a good President and being the girl next door doesn't make you a good cook (not that those things are mutually exclusive, but one doesn't always lead to the other).

I am not one of those people who snarks on her weight (I'm a bit chunky myself), her clothing (okay, I do snark on that sometimes because she wears the ugliest dresses and most unflattering shirts sometimes), or her height (I'm way shorter than she is and like her, I have a short husband). I don't experience schadenfreude at every little bad thing that happens to her. I don't sit around and wait for the big scandal that would topple her career. I'm not a "Suxter" (although I do admit I love reading the posts on the RRSUX site).

I just wish her 15 minutes would wind down already. I'm sure it will when the FN execs realize they can't afford her anymore and they decide to promote the next big thing.

Sue said...

I have to say the one thing I don't begrudge RR is the enormous amount of money she makes. If people are stupid enough to pay her that much and other people are misguided enough to watch her, then more power to her. The other thing you have to admit about RR is that she works like a dog. Nobody handed her anything. I honestly don't think she expected her success and I think she's just running with it.

Having said that, it is appalling that she's made her fame and fortune cooking. When are people going to wake up and realize that she can't cook? Her combining a million different ingredients to come up with different hamburgers is not cooking. You're right, adding cheese to everything - just so it doesn't taste like dreck - is not cooking.

She likes to talk about her foundation, one of whose goals is to fight childhood obesity, and she's coming up with meat-laden, cheese-overloaded, crummy recipes. Plus her association with Dunkin' Donuts is actually outrageous, given her stated goals of wanting Americans to eat more healthfully.

So I'm with you on your view that RR glorifies all that is mediocre and in some small measure what is wrong with this country - we're always looking for quick fixes, we go for the least challenging solutions to problems. BUT I fully support RR's quest to make as much money as she possibly can in as short a time as possible and to become as everpresent on our airwaves, grocery shelves, bookstores and magazine racks as her rabid public will allow her, because that, too, is the American way.

But that shouldn't stop us from launching a campaign - Rachael, do what you want, make as much money as you want, just stop with the dreadful recipes and horrid cooking.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

My gut reaction when people ask if I like RR is yes, I do. I like HER,I like that she came from nothing and built an empire! She has truely appealed to the home cook - not neccesarily foodies like us! Her cooking is not that great, her TV show is annoying a lot of the time, but her and her accomplishments and tenacity to make things happen in her life, I do like, and respect.

Sue said...

That's basically the way I feel. She got where she is by old fashioned hard work and she's certainly not resting on her laurels. BUT her cooking is the ANTI-COOKING and if she would just stay out of the kitchen, we'd have nothing to complain about...(AND nothing to write about, and what fun would that be?)

Emilie said...

I love it when you point out the things that the celebrity chefs say/do wrong! I thought I knew what EVOO was, until I read about the acidity in it, which I had no idea about. Very interesting.
She should have read up on EVOO if she knew she was going to be selling and promoting it.

Jennifer said...

I've always been a RR fan and make no bones about it. That said, I can't stand Giada, she's the one I find fake and phony.

I do have to say though, I prefer the older Rachael as opposed to the new Rachael. And while I may be a fan, I do NOT care for her recipe books at all. I have checked out every one of them from the library and was thoroughly disappointed, but I think I prefer to just watch her shows over reading her recipes. I don't really like a lot of her cooking, but she's always been an interesting person to me, which is why I'm always glued to the TV whenever her shows are on.

Sue said...

So basically you agree with me. Get RR out of the kitchen and she's a lively talk show host. Put her in the kitchen and she produces dreck.

That's so interesting how you feel about Giada. I guess I like her because I think she can actually cook and I find her kind of charming. To each her own...

Carol Ott said...

I like Giada. She seems like she'd be a fun friend, and I like the way she loves to eat.

RR -- I like her, can't stand to watch her cook. Some of her stew/soup things make me want to throw the TV through the window.

Ingrid -- bleh.

LOOOOOVE Ina Garten, though. I just finishe reading your post, and I was reminded that the parmesan chicken would be a perfect thing to serve Sunday night for dinner. Thanks!