That headline just occurred to me after looking at a lot of the heated feedback I’ve been getting about this post. No subject on my blog has engendered the same level of occasionally unpleasant debate as Pat and Gina Neely. I guess this hot political season has spilled over onto food television. BTW, I don’t mind heated comments, but I won’t post nasty ones.
There seem to be two sides to this issue: people who hate the Neelys, because they regard them as stereotypical, over-the-top, hackneyed, poor black role models and people who hate me, because they think my criticism of the Neelys’ love of overcooked steak, Cool Whip and other garbage additions to perfectly good recipes is racist.
I’m writing about one thing mainly: the food. Of course, other stuff comes into play with judging the merits of a show. Do we like the host(s) as people? Can we relate to them? Not just Pat and Gina, but all the hosts.
Many people have a hard time with Ina, because they can’t relate to her Hampton-ness. I find her warm and cozy and don’t mind at all that she lives in a beautiful house. I don’t even begrudge her apartment in Paris. (More great shows for us.)
I love hearing about the Neelys’ grandmothers and Gina trying to get on her mother-in-law’s good side by making her favorite recipes. I love the talk of a strong male role model for their daughters…all that stuff. But it all comes down to the food. If the food’s good, even if the host is a pissant, you have to admire the final result. In the same way, you may have a perfectly affable host, but if the food doesn’t do it…forget it.
That’s really what it comes down to for me. Let’s debate the hot topic of macaroni and cheese on top of stove versus in the oven. Or is pasta salad better with mayo or vinaigrette. (Both!) Or even…GASP!!!...is barbecue better with a vinegar-based sauce or a tomato one or should you go with pulled pork or chopped pork?
OF COURSE, there should be every color, ethnicity and gender on the Food Network – but each show, no matter its bent, should demonstrate excellent cuisine, whether fancy, fanciful or just plain fattening.
And let’s not use the Neelys as an opportunity for race baiting. They’re obviously an incredibly successful couple. Has that translated into a 100% successful Food Network show? We don’t know quite yet, they’ve just begun, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.
My objection with any show is overloading a recipe with too much crap, too much onion powder, too much fake stuff. Is it really too much to ask to use REAL food? That’s it. That’s all I want. It can have as many calories, as much fat as you want, just make it REAL.