It was like a reunion of old friends. I flipped it on and there they were - my familiar cooking buddies Sara and Mario - patiently explaining how to use a Ziploc bag to stuff eggs with tuna and capers; artfully presenting skewers of spicy grilled chicken by inserting them into oranges; and providing history and geography lessons on the regions of Italy, interspersed with stories about why the southern part of the "boot" has more African culinary influences than Milan.
Oh, how I have missed them! Mario Batali and Sara Moulton were my TV mentors when I began my home cooking journey 15 years ago in Jacksonville, Fla. After tucking the kids into bed, I would treat myself to a cold beer and watch Sara at 10 p.m. on Food Network's "Cooking Live." Mario and Sara had no stylin' wardrobes, tired "bam" shtick, tight sweaters over big boob jobs, or slick kitchen paraphernalia. They were just pleasant personalities sharing their impressive intellect and talent with the home viewer.
Now, I can watch them again on the new Cooking Channel. Cooking Channel launched in June, right when I started this blog, so I haven't had much time to check it out - until this week when I finally found it on my cable. A sister channel of the Food Network, it is a mixture of old and new shows. Did you know that Padma Lakshmi, of "Top Chef, " had her own cooking show called "Padma's Passport?" That was news to me.
My favorite food show revisit has to be "The French Chef," not necessarily for what Julia Child is cooking but for her bull-in-a-china-shop style and brutal, sometimes politically incorrect, honesty. The other day she was demonstrating how to butter and flour a cake pan and she hilariously threw all the excess flour onto the floor because she "had a self-cleaning kitchen." It was the antithesis of a Martha Stewart moment.
On "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" on PBS last weekend, she told Jacques Pepin that she hated the blue potatoes he was using. In the same show, he said a dish might not be appropriate for vegetarians and she said she just wouldn't invite them to the meal. I think I may need to record Julia for the comedic elements alone. A couple of her shows air weekends on PBS and the one on Cooking Channel airs at 2 p.m. weekdays.
Yet another oldie Cooking Channel has dredged up is "The Galloping Gourmet." I remember my mom watching nutty Graham Kerr and my brothers mercilessly making fun of him. Unlike Julia's like-it-or-lump-it charm, the giddy galloper's bizarre routine does not stand the test of time. What was with the goofy flirtation with the ladies in the audience and the cocktail party atmosphere? The '70s was an odd decade. If you survived the '70s and your kids think it sounds like a cool time, put them in front of Graham Kerr for a few minutes.
I could go on and on.... Flip on the Cooking Channel and see for yourself. Let me know what you think.