As published by MX, 20 July 2010
Too many trees have succumbed to all manner of Masterchef dissections. Who’s in, who’s out, who’s had a personality bypass…
Night after night the esteemed judges pontificate the merits of a weepy contestant’s presentation, the saltiness of their jus, the relative size of their macaroons and the texture therein. Slightly undercooked schwab almost ranks as a personal insult, if the guest guru of fine cuisine’s appalled expression is anything to go by.
It’s easy to forget that for the estimated billion starving people across the globe each day, food is a precious commodity, not something to be piously precious about.
Chefs have earned a godlike status, or so the networks and restaurant industry would have us believe. But what I am finding a little insulting, or unreal as I watch the judges pour over puff pastry with forensic dedication, is that we have become unbelievably anal about, and so consumed by what we shove in our gob. Or at least what the well heeled can afford to buy, or the lucky few have the wherewithal to make.
There was a time when food was no more than an essential element of survival, even for Western society. If it tasted half decent it was a bonus. For those in disadvantaged nations, this is still the case. What would our homeless or a starving family in Haiti or the shanty slums of South Africa make of Matt Preston and his well fed sidekicks? Or the contestant’s tears over spilt milk and lumpy pesto? They should be so lucky for a break from eating their own skin and ‘cookies’ baked in the sun, made of dirt bound by a little fat.
As much as we covet food in our own weirdly over the top fashion whilst inhaling far too much crap, we also insult the poor with obscene wastage. If it’s a few days past the best before date we bin it. If we gorge on too many courses before main we leave mountains on the plate (even the Yanks who’ve cornered the market in waste aren’t too proud to ask for a doggy bag). I wonder how much of what is cooked on Masterchef is now rotting away in landfill? Unfortunately health laws prevent passing on perfectly edible leftovers to those who need it.
There’s no doubt Masterchef is very watchable, very addictive. The masses attest to that. And there’s a lot worse on our screens, such as the cringe worthy cadavers served up on a slab on myriad US crime shows. Or Hey Hey it’s Groundhog Day. And there’s nothing wrong with promoting an appreciation for good grub and the skill of preparing delicious meals at home.
But give me Bear Grylls’ gratefulness and no nonsense approach to raw camel and crunchy critters any day.