I Like to Watch

9fb5e72e6e4eae69_FoodnetworkchefI have a confession to make.

I like to watch people play with exotic tools like drizzlesticks, poach pods, mincers and mandolins. I find the sight of a grown man rubbing naked chickens down with butter dangerously alluring. In fact, I’d rather have Duff Goldman whisk my eggs and Bobby Flay pinch my salt than watch Skin-a-Max any night of the week.

Whether it’s Nigella Lawson lustfully sucking up oil-soaked spaghetti, Guy Fieri ferociously French-frying a potato, Paula Deen daintily deboning a chicken, or Michael Symon taking mucho macho control of an impossible mission, I love to watch the Food Network.

Food porn is my porn of choice.

“Just like sexual porn, food porn is something that you watch but not necessarily with the view of doing or putting in practice,” said a story in “The Montreal Gazette,” which quoted Valerie Bourdeau, a Concordia University student who did her master’s thesis on the subject. “The watching is the entertainment.”

I couldn’t agree more.

But my predilections aren’t limited to the small screen. “Big Night” is one of my favorite movies, as are “Chocolat,” “Ratatouille” and especially “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

I appreciate print as well. One of my favorite times of the year is chocolate catalog season. Though I’ve never actually ordered anything from Hickory Farms, their catalog has kept me company through many a long winter’s night.

Yes, I’ll admit it. I am addicted to food porn.

And just like some people who like to watch that other kind of porn (or so I’m told), just because I like to watch other people do it, doesn’t mean I want to try that at home.

With all of these joy of cooking shows on TV, “Julie & Julia” lighting up the big screen and everyone from Maureen Dowd to Barbara Kingsolver writing about food, it’s a culinary orgy out there-but I just like to watch.

Watching other people cook is, well, potent. Watch Giada or Ina or Mario for a half hour and then go shopping. You’ll see that even a fairly standard grocery store can feel like a glutton’s paradise, with the smells and the colors and the labels of the food romancing your senses.

But while I lust for all things gastronomic, I have absolutely no desire to bisect a living lobster, truss up a pheasant or go anywhere near a sweetbread, despite it’s deceptively enticing sounding name. Like the best of pornography (or so I’m told), food porn depicts beautiful things arranged in ways you might not have previously thought of, with star chefs doing things onscreen that few amateurs like me would ever try at home.

In fact, if my husband told me he wanted to take over ALL of the cooking tomorrow and forevermore, I could quite happily never set foot in my kitchen again.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen.

We both admit to marrying poorly in the kitchen department. While I cook more than I used to out of necessity, my most used recipe card is still the one my sister-in-law gave me, with phone numbers for all the local takeout places that deliver. The only thing I truly “like” to make is reservations. In fact, we once joked about holding a Plastic Chef competition at our house. Hey, if the Chairman lets us hold it in Kitchen Stadium with Alton Brown doing the play by play, then “let the battle begin.”

That’s something I’d really like to watch.

When Leslie’s not perusing the Food Network, she’s online at Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com. For more columns visit www.LeslieDinaberg.com. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on August 14, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.