It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When Food Shows Go Bad

Like most human beings not in the modelling profession, I love food in its many varieties and styles. Since I love food, I also happen to love The Food Network.

The Food Network is an American cable network that focuses on food. This may seem obvious to you until you've tuned into a World Rugby recap on the Fox Soccer Channel, or worse, anything produced on what is purported to be the "'E' - Entertainment Channel." They should rename it to the "Paris and Britney's Sordid Night Out Channel"

The Food Network is loaded with vibrant personalities who revel in the delicate art of food preparation and the joy of exploring vital, unique cuisines...and also Emeril Lagasse. These people make the subtle art of cooking seem easy and straightforward. They carry off complicated dishes with cheer and an easygoing panache. Quite frankly, they irritate the hell out of all of us who don't know the difference between a velouté and a demi-glaze.

However, things don't always go as smoothly as they seem. Here, for the first time ever (that I am personally aware of) are the moments behind the scenes when things go wrong, when the silky, Royal frosting smooth world of the Food Network goes unexpectedly lumpy.

Here are some Food Network Bloopers!

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(Paula Dean is working in her kitchen in her usual jovial manner)

Paula: Ha, ha, ha! Hee, hee!! Haaa!! (doubles over in laughter) Hee, hee!! I stuck my hand in the deep fryer, y'all!

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(Episode #54 of Iron Chef America - Parsley Battle)

Commentator Alton Brown: Well, things seem to be going rather swimmingly halfway through this "Battle Parsley," with challenger Gordon Ramsey enjoying himself by berating one of his assistants for slicing a Tournedo with the grain and Iron Chef Mario Batali working feverishly on a roast turkey dish. There seems to be some commotion on the floor now though. Kevin, what's happening.

Floor Reporter Kevin Brauch: Alton, it looks as though Chef Batali has accidentally impaled his sous-chef with his cleaver.

Iron Chef Mario Batali: Mark, are you OK? I feel awful about this! Damn, that brown butter on my fingers!

Sous-Chef Mark Redshirt: I'll be all right Chef! Don't get distracted from your dishes! That scapula will heal just fine.

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(Emeril Lagasse's show Emeril Live)

Ashton Kutcher: (offstage) What Chef Lagasse doesn't know is that he's being Punk'd! Someone has switched his cayenne pepper with red-coloured gunpowder!

Emeril: OK! Today I'm making my super-spiced Jambalaya and I've got a nice hot skillet to work in. We're sizzling andouille and chicken in here, and you know we've gotta add some heat to this little dish! (Throws some "cayenne pepper" into the skillet) Bam!

(Large explosion and "Bam!" sound effect)

Emeril: My eyebrows!!!

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(Throwdown, with Bobby Flay. The judges are about to announce the winner of the hamburger throwdown between Bobby Flay and a McDonald's fry cook.)

Judge: It wasn't even close. We really liked the greasy blandness of "Burger A."

Bobby Flay: The McDonald's burger? That's what I get for using too much rosemary, thyme, and saffron oil with my ground chuck!

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(Good Eats with Alton Brown. Alton is explaining how to get baking dough to rise.)

Alton: One thing that every good dough can use to help get a good rise is acetylsalicylic acid or baking soda. (Looking offscreen) What did I say? Acetylsalicylic acid? No, that's aspirin. I couldn't have said that. Baking soda. What's baking soda? Sodium chloride? It's sodium something... I know this like the back of my hand!

(two hours later)

Alton: hydrocarbonate dioxide? No? Aggghhh!! (Beats head against table) Someone get me a copy of Larousse Gastronomique, stat!

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(Iron Chef America #124 - Porridge Battle... The Chairman is about to start the battle.)

The Chairman: Alle Cuisine!!! (he spins around and accidentally backflips into the porridge.)

Iron Chef Cat Cora: I'm not using that stuff, now.

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($40 a Day - Rachel Ray is rummaging through bread at Seattle bakery. As she is looking, she has a "nip-slip." this goes on for about 60 seconds. Finally she notices.)

Rachel: Oh my gosh! Is that on camera??

Cameraman: Is what on camera?

Rachel: My nip? Did you guys see that? I'm so embarrassed!

Cameraman: Rachel hon, the way you dress, we pretty much see that all the time, whether it's covered or not.

Soundman: I did notice it, but it was pretty much what I thought it'd look like, so I figured the audience couldn't tell the difference."

(Rachel throws a baguette at the soundman.)

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(The Barefoot Contessa - Ina Garten is trying to tape an episode the day after St. Patrick's Day.)

Ina: Man, I wish I hadn't drank all that Budweiser last night. Here, hand me that frozen Mahi-Mahi. (She holds it against her head and closes her eyes.) Ooohhh... I feel like someone hit me over the head with a blackjack.

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(Ace of Cakes - Chief Charm City Cakes Cakemaker Duff Goldman is talking with his executive sous-chef Geoffrey Manthorne about "stuff.")

Duff: Did you see The Simpsons last night, dude. That was so funny when Homer got wasted on all that beer and drove his car into the nuclear power plant.

Geoff: I'm surprised you think it's funny, dude.

Duff: Why's that, man?

Geoff: The beer is called "Duff's Beer" and they're like selling it internationally now. They totally named it after you and they're making millions.

Duff: No way, man!

Geoff: Yeah, I totally heard Matt Groening say that in an interview.

Duff: Oh, man! (starts pacing) I can't believe that! I gotta call my lawyer and sue those bastards!

Geoff: No, dude... dude... calm down. I'm just yanking your chain.

Duff: (stopping) What do you mean?

Geoff: It's not real beer, man, and they've been calling it "Duff's" since it premiered back on December 17th, 1989. You were only, like 15 then, dude.

Duff: December 17th? that's my birthday, dude. (Laughs) That's funny, man.

Geoff: Yeah.

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(Dinner Impossible - Chef Robert Irvine and his staff are preparing a meal on a desert island for 12,000 cruise-liner passengers, using only coconuts, bananas, and whatever seafood they can catch with a paper clip and whatever they brought with them to the island. They have 45 minutes to go.)

Chef Irvine: All right! we've got 40,000 clams that George found behind a rock on the beach, 1,500 tunas that I wrestled to the beach using my bare hands, 50,000 bananas, 30,000 coconuts, the 4,000 squid that George, that's other George, caught with a net made from his shoestrings and dental floss this morning. Other George is working on the shrimp and lobster now with his hat. So! (Pointing to various temporary assistants) You start the clam ravioli! You start the coconut mousse! You start the banana crostinis! And you start fileting the tuna for the sushi and sashimi...provided I can salvage enough rice from the wedding they had on shipboard this afternoon!

Assistants: (in unison) Yes Chef!

(The various assistants rush off to their assignments. Chef Irvine looks around to see if anyone is watching. He pulls out two 50 lb. dumbbells and starts doing vigourous curl reps. Suddenly, he notices the cameraman is still there and taping.)

Chef Irvine: (blushing) Oh, blimey! I didn't see you there. Is that on tape? It's just that I missed my morning workout when we parachuted in!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And now for a word from the Dark Side...

I was just thinking about my last post. As annoying as Obi-Wan Kenobi must have been to Luke Skywalker, it must have even been more frustrating for Luke to deal with the menacing, wheesing spectre of his deformed, yet heavily armed father, constantly trying to corrupt Luke's immortal soul. It'd be a bit like a really pesky used car salesman, only one who occasionally takes a poke at you with a light sabre.

Also, I never did understand that whole, "Turn to the dark side!/Hold still so I can cut your head off!" dichotomy. I mean, if Darth Vader wanted to convert Luke to the dark side, then why was he always trying to filet him with his giant, electronic Ginzu?

Anyway, Vader clearly had no sense of marketing the dark side, or Luke, Leia, Han, Yoda, and pretty much the whole galaxy would have been converted quicker than Tom Cruise can say "L. Ron Hubbard" in his theatan-free panic room. I think Darth would have had much better success had he sold the dark side with a little more finesse.

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  • Darth Vader: Luke, turn to the dark side. They have free chequeing
  • Darth Vader: Luke, I may not be able to convince you to turn to the dark side, but would you take a few moments and listen to my friend Heidi Klum?
  • Darth Vader: Luke, the dark side tastes great AND is less filling!
  • Darth Vader: Luke, do you know why they call it the "dark side?" Chocolate!!
  • Darth Vader: Luke, look at the confidence the dark side has given my friend Bob... and check out the dude's light sabre!!
  • Darth Vader: Luke, turn to the dark side! It's so easy a Wookie can do it!
  • Darth Vader: Luke, Kirstie Alley lost 70 pounds by going to the dark side!
  • Darth Vader: (In a thick, high Irish accent) Give up being a Jedi and turn to the dark side to drink more dark Guinness beer? Brilliant!
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Yes, I think I'm done with the Star Wars bits for a few weeks now...

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Am I getting on your nerves, Luke?

Well, to cut to the chase, the Fando family were watching Star Wars for the umpteenth time again, as the American cable channels apparently have decided to celebrate the 30th anniversary of George Lucas's magnum horse operus in space by repeatedly showing it until people's heads hemmorage that goo that R2-D2 spits out when he gets all muddy.

They are very close in my case.

Anyway, the thing that caught my attention was Obi-Wan Kenobi's constant disembodied advice to Luke at the end of the film. It's odd enough that, instead of being shocked senseless by hearing the voices of dead friends in your ear in the pitch of battle, Luke merely responds with the same amount of emotion that one would expect from someone who's experiencing AM wireless interference.

I couldn't help but wonder though whether Obi-Wan begged off after that battle, or whether he continued to give Luke advice for the rest of his miserable Jedi life. If it's the latter, I suspect it went something like this:

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(Luke Skywalker is brushing his teeth. He puts down the brush, rinses, and begins to walk out.)

Disembodied Obi-Wan: Use the floss, Luke!

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(Luke Skywalker is a bar in Mos Eisley. He spies two attractive women, one brunette, one blonde, looking at him. He walks up to the brunette and starts to speak.)

Disembodied Obi-Wan: Choose the blonde, Luke!

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(Luke Skywalker steps up to shop register on Dantooine. He pulls out his Discover card.)

Disembodied Obi-Wan: Use the Visa, Luke! You'll get free spacemiles for every purchase!

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(Luke Skywalker walks up to the tee of a par 5 golf hole. He pulls out a driver.)

Disembodied Obi-Wan: Luke, use the 3-wood! Trust your feelings! Do you want to end up in the deep stuff?

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(Luke Skywalker is walking through the spaceport of Coruscant when he spies a landspeeder sales lot. He spots a particularly sleek speeder and eyes it with a smile.)

Disembodied Obi-Wan: Luke, buy the six-passenger model. You're not a kid anymore, you know. You think you can cruise around for birds with that gut?

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(Luke Skywalker is walking through the passages of the Millenium Falcon, when he spots Princess Leia. She is bending over, working on a circuit box.)

Disembodied Obi-Wan: Luke, don't think like that! She's your sister! (Musingly) Of course, if I weren't a disembodied voice... Bada-bing goes the light saber, if you know what I mean!

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(Luke Skywalker is walking down the high street in Naboo's capital city. He turns to go into a restaurant to order some sushi.)

Disembodied Obi-Wan: Luke, choose the New York Roll and the Alaska ...

Luke: AAAAARRRRGGGHH!!!! Why don't you just piss off, old man and leave me the hell alone?!

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It would have to end that way, wouldn't it?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

St. Patri-hic!'s Day

Well, you've probably been wondering about the dearth of posts over the last day or so, but as it was St. Patrick's Day yesterday, I'm sure the entire staff was sleeping off the annual Guinness frolic. I had my one bottle, as usual. You may think that a measley amount to put me off posting, but it was extra stout, not that watered-down draught they sell here in the States. That's like Guinness mixed with Dasani water.

Of course, the bloody marys probably didn't help either.

Anyway, after the usual leprechaun hallucinations (why do they always look like Maureen O'Hara) and the traditional bath of colcannon, I've recovered enough to realize that I forgot to offer my usual annual tips on proper St. Patrick's Day celebrations. So here they are, belatedly, follwed by some tips on recovering from St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Top o' the Day!

Earl Fando's 2007 Tips on Proper St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

  • Remember that St. Patrick's Day is a proper Catholic feast day, so approach it with deep reverance. 24 beers is simply one too many and public nudity is frowned upon.
  • Green beer = tradition. Green sausages = food poisoning.
  • If you drink until you see leprechauns, you've had too much.
  • If you drink until you hear the animated Guinness characters shouting, "Brilliant!" you've just passed out next to the telly.
  • If you drink until you see gorgeous Irish lasses, dressed in shimmering translucent veils and smothering you with kisses, call the Guinness people immediately and sell them the receipe for whatever combination you've been drinking.
  • Those "Kiss Me, I'm Irish!" buttons don't apply if you've just had your twelfth beer and your face is smothered with soda bread crumbs and bits of cabbage.
  • Like Scots music, Irish music uses the bagpipes. That's not the sound of the Banshee coming for your immortal soul, it just sounds like it.
  • If you see someone dressed as a leprechaun, making "Lucky Charms" jokes will only get you severly beaten up.
  • Really, you should avoid the green beer. No one really dyes the beer, they just use the holiday as an opportunity to get rid of all the old stock. Green beer is green for a reason.
  • Don't attempt Irish dancing unless you are well trained in it or have a great orthopedic surgeon on call.

Earl Fando's Tips on Recovering from Proper St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

  • Don't attempt to shoot any leprechauns you see. They're not real, but your walls, furniture, and roommates are.
  • People will attempt to make all manner of foul-smelling liquid concoctions to help you over your hangover but none of them really work. The simple rule of thumb is to sleep until you are able to open your eyelids without them making the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.
  • Don't bother calling anyone whose number you got during the celebrating. Not only is it highly unlikely that they remember you, but they probably just gave you the number so you'd leave them to their drinking.
  • Green vomiting doesn't mean you're now Irish. It means you had those bloody green sausages and need to go to hospital.
  • The Republic of Ireland is not responsible for any tattoos you may have acquired during the holiday.

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