Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Man vs. Food

This summer, despite short-run shows like EUREKA and BURN NOTICE, was relatively TV-free for me and therefore extremely productive. I'm almost sorry to see my favorite shows (like FRINGE) starting back up again. I'm dreading another season of clogged DVRs and evenings spent staring at the tube instead of doing something more important. Like staring at my computer monitor. And don't get me started on my beloved football games.

It's why I've made a point of not getting into shows like TRUE BLOOD. I want to watch it but it's just one more hour out of my week. Besides, I'm old enough to remember Anna Paquin's "information superhighway" commercials when she was but a wee tot. I'm not terribly comfortable watching her get naked. (I remember the first time I noticed the centerfold in PLAYBOY was younger than I was. Downhill ever since.)

There was a time when I liked nothing more than vegging out in front of the box all night. Suzanne and I, back when we "only" had basic cable, would spend entire evenings mesmerized by the Food Network. Emeril, Alton and the gang were our buds. Friday nights were the best. Before they ran IRON CHEF into the ground, it was our biggest guilty pleasure. No matter how hard we tried to describe it to our friends who hadn't seen it, words just failed us. (That was the show that spawned Mike's nickname for Suzanne..."Squeeze-ONNNN!!!!") And speaking of running things into the ground, this was when I discovered a pre-ubiquitous Rachel Ray and fell madly in love with her. Nothing lasts forever, though, and now I can only watch her with the volume on "mute" lest her umpteenth utterance of "E.V.O.O." cause me to drop kick the TV into the fireplace.

The faces on Food Network changed over the years and we eventually got bored with it. Suzanne's a foodie so she still tunes in for background noise. But ACE OF CAKES and IRON CHEF AMERICA just don't do it for me. It looked like my love affair with food shows was over.

Enter MAN VS. FOOD on the Travel Channel. This show is like nasty fetish porn for food addicts. Each episode, the host (Adam Richman) visits some hole in the wall joint that has a food challenge and puts his tummy to the test. I'll be honest, I've always fantasized about doing one of these (especially THIS ONE) but, despite my size, I'm just not that big an eater. I've won two pancake contests with my coworkers but, let's face it, they're skinny little woosies.

I discovered the show flipping channels one night as I was winding down for bed. The switch to digital has eliminated the Cartoon Network from our extra TVs (we'd need another digital box for the bedroom) and so I tend to just surf until I conk out. BOING! As soon as I saw Richman working his way through 5 pounds of pancakes, I was hooked. Whenever I happen to catch the show, I'm in for the long haul. I wasted nearly an entire afternoon not long ago when TC was running a marathon.

Richman is amazing. He's a little bit heavy but you'd think he'd be 400 lbs. at this rate. I've seen him eat some incredible amounts of shit and come up asking for more. He wins more often than not and, despite some close calls and glassy eyes, he doesn't appear much the worse for wear.

Like JAWS or GOODFELLAS, if this show is on, I'm watchin' it. The show is inspired (though I wonder how it's viewed by people from countries where a bowl of fly-blown rice is considered overindulgent) and if you haven't seen it, treat yourself. I wish I had the guts--heh--to try one of these challenges. But at least I can watch this guy. He is livin' the dream and livin' it large.


PJ said...

Alas, TV is a tale of diminishing channel choice for me. Travel Channel was booted off in the last round. Thankfully many shows are streamed now so there is still a way to watch.


You mean X-Files 2, don’t you? Am I the only one who has noticed JJ Abrams is doing a modified riff here (right down to the redheaded female FBI agent). I’m just wishing Fox would move the show to Sundays into the X-Files old slot because it was always a good way to end the weekend.

I remember watching the Iron Chef before it was even on the Food Network. It ran locally on a Japanese language station and was one of those shows you’d fall on while channel surfing. Even without knowing Japanese it was still compelling enough to make me watch it. The current incarnation will get better (and has gotten better over time) as they move away from FoodTV standard bearers (Flay, Baatali and Morimoto). They are doing another series to find the next Iron Chef which leads me to believe one of the aforementioned chefs will be leaving the show.

Christian D. Leaf said...

Hahaha. We watch 'M vs F' every week. It's one of the few shows that we rarely miss, which is rare for us. I've been eating cayenne peppers cuz I really wanna try a Ghost Chili pepper. Though after last night's Ghost Chili Hot Wings I'm not so sure. That was the most miserable I've ever seen Adam.

Leanne said...

I LOVE Iron Chef. The Japanese version, anyway. The American spin-off was but a cheap imitation.

Every once in a while I'll find an episode on TV and sit back and watch happily. I think the only one I never managed to catch was the Octopus Battle. I still want to see that some day. Maybe I'll YouTube it.