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Sunday, September 9, 2007

So I Finally Saw Ingrid Hoffman

I was having a dinner party last night (will be a separate blog for menus and "hilarious outtakes"), so I stayed home from the barn yesterday and cooked all day. I took some time off from the pots and pans to sit down and watch Simply Delicioso.

I found that at least the first time out, I can sort of tolerate Ingrid Hoffman. I don't find her quite as annoying as Rachael Ray. Then again, I was able to tolerate Ray initially. It wasn't until I saw several episodes of 30MM that she got on my nerves. Hoffman would probably do the same after a few episodes. Her framing device for the show is a bit cutesy. She addresses the TV audience as if we were guests at her event, then tells us she's going to show us how she did it. She snaps her fingers, freezes the people onscreen, and then heads for the kitchen. I don't think it's really necessary and it distracts from what the show should be about - cooking. But you gotta have a gimmick right? You can't be on the Food Network if you don't have an act. I suspect some people like it.

I found Hoffman to be scatterbrained and distracted while she cooked. Like Ray, she overused the word, "guys". She tended to go off in different directions. It's really hard to follow her as she cooks. She also tended to forget things. She would suddenly remember she needed to add something to the pot. She had some useful information. She used the phrase "Chica Tips" a few times that reminded me of those stupid popups you see on 30MM. I found a couple of them useful such as the one where she talked about soaking plantains in water to make them easier to peel. Who knew? I didn't. I have to remember that a lot of these shows are assuming they're addressing an audience that doesn't know how to cook. She did that stupid salt thing that Ray does. She never got the memo that you are only supposed to do that when you spill the salt. She threw the salt at the camera for the audience. I have to give her some props for her attempts to engage the audience that way. Many viewers like to feel that they are being directly addressed and it carries on the theme that you are somehow invited into the kitchen. I personally think it distracts from the cooking, but that's just me. This woman knows what she's doing as a performer even if she doesn't know what she's doing in the kitchen.

As for the food, it's hard to say. Looking at most of the recipes on the FN website, I'd say very few of them appeal to me. This show she made a stew called Sancocho, a Colombian Aji salsa, and rice pudding. The aji looked like pico de gallo to me. I don't consider that a bad thing, but I wonder about it's authenticity. If I made that for a family dinner and told my sister-in-law that it was Colombian aji, would she say, "Yummy. That's great," or would she raise her eyebrows at me and say, "It is?" Being an unsophisticated food bumpkin, I know nothing about sancocho. I have no idea if her recipe was authentic or if it would even taste good. I was unsure if I thought it looked edible or not. At first I thought it did. Then she just kept adding more and more stuff to the pot. There were green plantains, then potatoes, then corn, then yucca, then squash, then black plantains. It seemed to me that it would be unbearably starchy. I also noted that she threw her chicken and short ribs in the pot together. I'm glad she cooked them a little bit before adding the stew ingredients, but I think she should have put them in one at a time and given them a good browning, then put them all back in the pot. Hoffman never bothered to tell the audience that you should brown up your meats well before adding them to a stew. That would have been a "chica tip" worth noting.

I got tired of the show by the time I saw the last 5 or 10 minutes, so the remote came out and I surfed a bit. I really wasn't interested enough to watch the whole thing through. Foodwise and entertainment-wise, it really wasn't attention grabbing. There are worse personalities on FN, but there are also more interesting chefs.

1 comment:

Sue said...

It was so interesting to read someone else's take of this show. This was BY FAR the best one she's done. Mommy made all the difference. So, if you thought this one wasn't great, you would have not just have been channel surfing but SCREAMING by the end of some of the others.

PS
I also thought it was very strange that she didn't brown the meat.