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Why do you watch cooking shows?

It seems like a simple question but someone asked me this last week and I found myself really thinking about it. I've always watched cooking shows. As a kid I watched Julia Child, the Galloping Gourmet, Jack Favier (on a local TV show and who may or may not have been a good cook, I can't really remember) and I am sure a host of other cooking shows. They may have first been on because my mother or grandmother was watching them but I always sat right in front of the TV, mesmerized. I didn't care about watching Sesame Street - give me Julia Child! I still watch cooking shows and I think that I am watching for the same reason - I am mesmerized. I love watching those really good cooks take a bunch on ingredients and create something amazing. I think that's really why I watch rather than to get cooking tips and ideas (though I pick up a lot of things here and there).

I have friends that watch Sandra Lee, Robin Miller et al and they just loooove them. They go on and on about their recipes and ideas and can't understand why I don't really like watching their shows. I watch, mostly in horror, Sandra Lee's show just to see what she's going to do THIS time. It is like a Saturday Night Live sketch to me. When I suggest they watch Jamie Oliver (and I know he has his fans and detractors here) they tell me he's boring. They say everything he makes is complicated. It is? Everything? Maybe most people do want Sandra Lee and Robin Miller. Personally, I miss seeing people really cook on a cooking show even if I cook using a lot of shortcuts.

So why do you watch cooking shows? Must run now and set up my tablescape for a southwestern brunch I am preparing. (Kidding!)

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  1. typically for entertainment value, sometimes for menu ideas, rarely for recipes, & never for technique.

    1. I am such a fanatic, but think the best shows were when we were kids. Julia and the GG were really invested in teaching people how to really cook. I decided I would give it a try. It's easy enough on blip.tv-- Faye Delicious

      1 Reply
      1. re: fayehess

        Yes, I think you are right, shows were better back then. Maybe I'm just nostalgic. I can appreciate trying to get people back into the kitchen or bringing cooking to the masses but does it have to involve opening a can of cream of mushroom soup? (And, yes, sometimes I make things in my own kitchen that involve cream of mushroom soup.) I guess it was just a different time. Now it seems everyone wants easy/fast food and are willing to sacrifice flavor for it. But that's really getting away from my original topic.

        I had a look at your blog. Very interesting. I'm going to go dig into the archives.

        I see this topic has been moved. Sorry, I really thought I was on this board when I was posting. I guess I just didn't look.

      2. Many times we watch cooking because there is nothing else on TV, or we use it for white noise. We watch to learn, get recipes, and to get ideas for our own cooking. We watch for the equipment they use, DH loves gadgets and fancy kitchen toys.

        PBS shows are best. NO one can beat Julia Child. I want to see her shows out there again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Janet

          I enjoy getting ideas for meals and in some cases, such as baking, I do get technique models. DH and I watch some together since it's one form of reality TV we agree on. I enjoy Mike Colamecco's PBS show where he takes the viewer into the kitchen and behind the scenes of restaurants. I learned to cook years ago watching Julia, Pierre Franey, and Graham Kerr.

        2. This is a good question. I'm not sure why I watch cooking shows but I do. I, too, loved Julia. And I'll watch even the shows I hate, such as Sandra Lee's, if that's what's on. I'm just more interested in cooking than I am in the rest of the TV landscape. I do learn technique from some shows. And I get inspired to try things.

          1. Watch because I love anything to do with food. To get ideas. Maybe see a technique I haven't done before. I don't follow the show for recipes but for general ideas. Better than other reality TV and sitcoms or movies on HBO that are old and play every week.