The Vulgarity That is Man v Food



Is anyone else getting kind of bored of the programming on the Food Network?  Whenever I turn it on, I am sure to see some incarnation of a programme like this:  A man, usually a very annoying uncharismatic man, travelling the US to show us the most grotesque, calorific, deep fried American ‘specialities’ he can find.  He interviews the chef on how its made then shoves it into his mouth, moaning and groaning at the camera.  A hot dog stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, deep fried and put in a bun with French fries? You got it.  I have a number of problems with this type of programming one of which is why they are all men? Can a women not front a show like this or is she too delicate and frail to take on the monstrosities that these men eat?  A second problem is all the programs are so similar; Man v Food, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, Meat and Potatoes, Heat Seekers, Extreme Eats, United Tastes of America and Eat Street all follow a related concept.  Not only are these shows all so similar, they seem to be ALWAYS repeated on the channel, every time I turn it on I see Guy Fieri's overtly tanned bleached head!

But my main issue is Man V Food, Oh how I loathe this show from the bottom of my heart and I can’t for the life of me understand why it’s so popular? Surely watching obese Americans gorging mountains of fried food as a competition cannot be classed as entertainment? And if it is, maybe that goes someway to explain what is wrong with this world.  If we first look at it on a simplistic level, this man (Adam Richman) is encouraging obesity, challenging these competitors to eat, eat and eat some more untill they spontaneously combust.  He also gives them helpful tips, like for instance if the challenge is to eat 5 pounds of ice cream in one sitting, you should eat it with a side of bacon as the salty bacon will counteract the sweetness of the ice cream and help get it down your neck. At the end of each programme we see Richman in the centre of a restaurant being cheered to gorge himself on anything from spicy chicken wings, a 30 inch pizza to a burger that would feed a family of 5 for a week, its obnoxious.  In a recent documentary I watched ‘The Men Who Made Us Fat’ on the BBC; in the second programme we were shown how the concept of ‘supersizing’ food contributed to our detriment.  If we see a larger portion on our plate, we are compelled to finish it thus gaining weight. If we now know this why do these ‘challenges’ still exist?  Surely we should be superslimming our portions rather than continuing to eat to excess? Adam Richman is no slim guy but still he seems to have no fears about heart disease and type 2 diabetes that is currently nearly at epidemic status.  Man V Food should come with a health warning; Do not attempt any of these challenges for the sake of your own health.

One of the Challenges 
The show is wrong on so many levels, especially at a moral and sociological level; it promotes gluttony and eating to excess.  As we as a populace are getting fatter by the year, surely it is not right to be advertising obesity and how to fastrack to it? And now Man V Food has evolved into Man V Food Nation, how apt: Richman has realised that maybe his extreme overeating was damaging his health so now he coaches the unsuspecting public on the many ways of gorging.  The vulgarity is palpable, with over a billion people in this world still hungry, the first world need to take a long hard look at themselves.  Not only do these beasts rarely complete the challenge, panting and sweating on the screen, turning green in front of our eyes as they try to resist the urge to vomit, the sheer amount of food waste is sickening.  How can a TV company justify showing this blatant surplus of food when it is aware of poverty and hunger worldwide?

Richman and a fellow challenger

Suffice to say that I rarely turn on the Food Network these days for the reasons outlined above. I cannot bear to look at these people mindlessly stuffing their faces with greasy and downright grotesque food.  Food should be a pleasure, it should be enjoyed with friends and family, it should promote health and taste, it should not be stuffed into ones mouth surrounded by a crowd of people wolf whistling and shouting you on until you are ready to vomit.  Food Network, employ more girls, diversify your programmes don’t opt for lazy broadcasting for the sheer sake of ratings; it’s your moral obligation.

Lamb Burgers

So how has everyone’s ‘Summer’s’ been so far? Yes the perhaps one day of the week when the sun breaks through the clouds and the Irish grab the beers and barbecues.  We have been having a lot of barbecues, not just the epic weekend barbecues but also the quick middle of the week grilling of pork chops over open coal.  Recently our gas BBQ succumbed to a terrible fate – it went on fire after a particularly strenuous grilling session! Basically we had cooked so much on it that the next time it was turned on and the lid left down, it ignited!  A replacement cheap charcoal barbecue has been purchased in the meantime to ensure there is no gap in barbecuing activities.  With this in mind let me tell you about a competition I entered last week.  Bord Bia and the Ray D’Arcy show were looking for people to come up with a summer lamb burger recipe – I accepted the challenge with relish (ahem) 

While out walking I came up with this recipe.  I used the warming spices of cumin and coriander seed in the burger with caramelised red onions.  I was also inspired by my garden which is providing me at the moment with an abundance of fresh herbs.  I went for coriander in the tomato salsa and lots of fresh mint in a tzatziki.  All this was served on a seeded pitta, I thought for summer it might be lighter and while on the health buzz I chose to serve it with a quinoa salad jewelled with pomegranate seeds and more fresh herbs.  I’m loving quinoa at the moment it has been a recent discovery of mine and excellent in summer salads.  And I know that it is my recipe and maybe I’m not supposed to say this as it would be considered gloating but it really was delicious! One of my finer kitchen moments, you really should try and make this!

And so the day came to announce the four finalists for the competition, I remained phone at the ready waiting for the call – of course I was going to get the call… I waited and waited, then waited some more..sadly my burger didn’t get picked and I’m not bitter about this in the slightest…But honestly the four finalists and eventual winner had fantastic recipes that I will be trying myself.  I realise that the competition was by Bord Bia to promote lamb in the summer months and it has worked the trick on me, I never really would have used lamb in burger recipes but it provides such a distinct taste that really absorbs any flavours that you add to it that I will certainly be trying it again.  But now I’m off to check my email…obviously its broken, sure that’s the reason why I wasn’t chosen, they didn’t get my email…!

Ingredients
For the burgers:
1 pack of lamb mince
2 red onion, cooked with balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
Lamb burgers on a temporary bucket barbecue!
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp oregano
1 egg
salt and pepper

For the tzatziki
Natural yoghurt
Juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic minced
½  pack of Feta cheese crumbled
Handful of fresh mint, chopped
½ a cucumber, grated

For the salsa
1/2 a green chilli, finely diced
3 large tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
1 red onion diced
Handful of coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Method
Toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds on a dry pan, add to a pestle and mortar and grind to a dry powder
Add this to the mince, along with a beaten egg, the cinnamon, turmeric, caramelised onions, oregano and salt and pepper
Mix with your hands and shape into 4 burgers
For the tzatziki combine all ingredients and season to taste, do the same with the salsa
Cook the lamb burgers on a BBQ for ten minutes
To assemble place some of the tzatziki on the bottom of a toasted pitta bread, add the burger and top with the salsa.
Serve with the quinoa and pomegranate salad




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