Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food Network Asia – My current obsession!

Images obtained from Food Network Asia television stills. 
Top row (L-R): Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray. 
Bottom row (L-R): Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentis, Pat and Gina Neely

Like many people, I believe that cooking is an art. I also believe that food should not merely serve as a fuel for the body but be an ultimate gastronomic experience. Food is one area in which being adventurous can seldom be a bad thing. With cuisines crossing borders and the availability of International food products increasing, there is so much that you can do with food. In today’s times, a large majority of people are on the lookout for jet-set meals because of their hectic lifestyle and home cooking is taking a backseat. It is unfortunate because food cooked at home is healthier, more hygienic and offers an opportunity for more family time.  

I have had a love affair with cooking for as long as I remember. It is probably because I am a complete foodie (maybe being a Taurean has something to do with that!).  I have memories of my 15 year old self scrambling to get a pen and piece of paper to scribble down a recipe every time a cooking show was on. Of course during that time, we didn’t have Food Network Asia airing on television. I would make do with whatever was available! Over the years, I have been very pleased with the increasing number of television networks showcasing cooking-related shows. However, during the recent few months, Food Network Asia has become one of my favorite channels. I watch it all the time. How lucky am I that my hubby is interested in food too…..there would probably have been a problem otherwise! I love the thought process that goes with planning a menu, experimenting with recipes and balancing complex flavors. On occasion, I also enjoy styling food and photographing it. I have to admit that watching Food Network Asia has helped me hone my culinary skills and made me more aware of the diverse cuisines and ingredients that are out there.

I regularly watch shows by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), Bobby Flay (Boy Meets Grill), Rachel Ray (30 Minute Meals), Paula Deen (Paula’s Home Cooking) and Giada De Laurentis (Giada at Home). Although I don’t have any particular favorite, I do like Ina’s meal themes, Bobby’s use of ingredients and spices, Paula desserts, Giada’s delicate hors'dourves and Rachel’s simple and hearty way of cooking. I feel that each one of them has something different to bring to the table (literally!). I have to say though that I feel Paula Deen’s use of butter and cheese in almost all recipes frightening! Maybe it doesn't make much sense to skimp on butter, cream and other fattening ingredients in desserts but preparing each course like that could seriously land you in the hospital one day! Not to mention, the United States has been battling obesity as a major health issue since the past several decades. In contrast, Giada De Laurentis, Bal Arneson (Spice Goddess) and Robin Miller (Quick Fix Meals) are dedicated towards preparing light and healthy meals. We need more shows where the hosts focus on preparing nutritious and wholesome food without compromising on flavor. Other Food Network Asia shows that I really enjoy are Chopped, Food Network Challenge, Unwrapped and Iron Chef America. I am a fan of Alton Brown and enjoy watching him in Iron Chef and anytime he appears in the short in-between program segments. I also love the Best Thing I Ever Ate! series featuring different Food Network chefs and hosts talking about some of their favorite dishes. Some of the shows I don’t care for are Guy’s Big Bite (Guy Fieri comes across as a bit too pompous) and Down Home with the Neeleys (I find Gina Neely extremely annoying). Apart from these two shows, I think everything else is pretty darn fantastic! I look forward to watching many more good and interesting shows in the years to come. 

Keep up the good work guys!

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