Last week Thomas Sutcliffe tried to work up an appetite for TV cookery programmes
Here is a recipe for recreational cooking: take a cookbook, find the recipe you want, note down the ingredients, go to the shops and buy what you need, return to your kitchen and cook what you have bought, serve on a plate, eat. Use your imagination, make your own mistakes, learn from them. Why let a grinning, swilling TV cook take away the mystery and the enjoyment? You might as well head for the chiller department in M&S and heat and serve. Stand the heat, get into the kitchen.
Today's TV chefs are an anomaly. Working women have little time or energy for cooking, and serve pre-cooked food from supermarkets. Cookery programmes should concentrate on helping them, or on haute cuisine as entertainment.
Delia Smith clones should be sought - honest and helpful. Why not have a series on dishes that cannot be pre-cooked - a souffle, simple when explained, or things to do with batter, or Irish soda bread - a lifeline when shops are shut.
For cooking buffs, a series on master dishes by experts would be inspiring and might preserve the art of creative cooking.
What daytime television viewers need - almost by definition, I would suggest, since an addiction to that kind of programming suggests deficiencies in some key areas - is an education in the basic principles of the kitchen. A short course in domestic science, with lessons on why a souffle rises, how to recognise fresh produce, would be infinitely more valuable than a teasing invitation to spend vast sums on exotic ingredients for frou- frou dishes made to impress the neighbours.
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