The rise of cooking shows in popularityWhile surfing the different channels of the TV, whenever one comes across a cookery show, one halts for a minute or two to make out what is being cooked. If the zoomed in image of the food that is being cooked seems interesting, the viewer starts following the recipe step by step.
If a substantial part of the program has been missed, the viewer waits for the recap till the end of the show and quickly tries to jot down the ingredients and methodology or tries to store the entire information in his mind for future endeavors in the kitchen. This is the power of cookery show which is rising in popularity day-by-day. “You’ll be flipping aimlessly through the cable channels when a slow-motion cascade of glistening red cherries or a tongue of flame lapping at a slab of meat on the grill will catch your eye, and your reptilian brain will paralyze your thumb on the remote, forcing you to stop to see what’s cooking. Food shows are the campfires in the deep cable forest, drawing us like hungry wanderers to their flames.” (Pollan, para.34) Interestingly, it is not just the females but also the males are watching these shows with great interest because today men spend more time cooking than what their fathers did.Gone are the days when cooking was one of the important chores of women. Women who didn’t know how to cook were not considered good role models for young girls learning the techniques of becoming a dutiful mother or wife.
The old saying goes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Perhaps this is why women spent a substantial amount of their day in cooking for their families. But today the rate of cooking has declined but interestingly the rate of watching what’s cooking up in cookery shows has got accelerated.
The reasons of decline in cooking are many. People have become more and more busy. Not only working but also lots of recreation time are being spent outside home.
Cooking is no longer considered an obligatory responsibility for women. Due to rise in consumerism there are many companies that are wooing the consumers to buy half or even full cooked packed food items from them. The restraunt business has flourished.
People have easy options of eating all kinds of food in comfortable environments. Hence the trend of cooking declined. However, the fascination for food which is one of the blessings of our lives has remained the same. Perhaps this is why people find it difficult to push aside the cookery shows on T.V. According to Pollan “Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); …..It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or “The Next Food Network Star.
” What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves — an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for.” (para. 9)Just like cooking we have stopped doing many of our daily chores like cleaning, gardening etc. However these activities if shown on T.V. would not gain as much popularity as cooking because this is an activity that has lots of varieties to attract viewers to the couch. There are different kinds of cooking a single food item. One can go on and on adding the different variants of ingredients or the different methods of cooking the same food items which can not only stretch to several episodes but also look fascinating and interesting to the viewers.
The respect for multiculturalism has increased. We try to understand the cultures of different nations and food plays an integral role in understanding different cultures. Tourism has increased. People are well traveled.
They have tasted many cuisines and they have the curiosity to know how different types of food get prepared. All the restaurants are jostling amongst themselves to titillate the taste buds of their customers in the best possible way. As a result there is no dearth of unique food items in the menu cards.
Since the spending capacity has increased people are trying out new items irrespective of the costs. If anything is exotic it attracts more attention. The cookery shows on television are lapping up with new ideas and trying to transfer the exoticness of the restaurants to the television screens and this is why the people are hooked.
Watching someone cook is not a new behavior. If we get into the memories of our childhood, we will vividly remember how interesting it was to watch our mothers chop, cut, cook and clean. Whenever there were guests in the house a great part of the conversation revolved around food and some of the women folk even demonstrated each other the way a particular food item was cooked; with children jostling around to have a peep of what was in the pan. Human beings have grown up seeing their mothers so involved with cooking that somehow that habit has got imbibed in everybody’s personality. Hence like yesteryears everyone is watching, the only difference is that they are not watching it live, rather the recorded program of the chefs meticulously turning raw food items into tasty dishes, ready to be consumed. There were many kinds of food items which looked inaccessible to us earlier, but thanks to the cookery shows, people are being encouraged to enjoy and experiment cuisine from all over the world.
Cooking something different over the weekend rather than slogging with the same food items all through the week have become the new mantra for today’s liberated women.Technological advancement and the different light settings and camera angles add a drama to cookery show and hence it is yet another way of passing time in television. Every one loves good images. It has been rightly pointed out by Sampath, while speaking about the kitchens of the cookery shows, “….the kitchen. Wow! You’ll get an appetite when you enter such a kitchen. Most modern yet simple.
It would be an envy of home makers who watch and realize such a privilege of cooking in that atmosphere.” (para. 4) Hence cooking shows are not just about our tummies but our eyes as well and perhaps this is why they are watched so much if not followed. The next attraction is of course the presenters.
They are so friendly, happy, cheerful and enthusiastic. Their passion keeps the viewers glued to their TV sets. What looks a daunting task in reality gets transformed into a mesmerizing activity on TV.
The viewers are getting introduced to celebrity chefs who are well trained masters of the culinary art. The profession of chef has suddenly gained lots of popularity. Unlike yesteryears many are viewing the profession of a chef as one of the hot career options. “Today’s most famous chefs lead interesting lives. From their upbringing to their study of the culinary arts, as well as the restaurants that they own and their current philosophy towards cooking, food is their lives! With the popularity of the latest food and cooking shows, as well as their media presence, including the television shows they have starred in and the books they have authored, their celebrity status has become widespread.” (Cooking Schools 101.
com, para. 4) Due to all this the cookery program that they host turns into instant success overnight.More and more people are becoming extremely conscious of their figures. Food that is low in calories is being suggested by all. But low calories food do not taste and look attractive if we cook it ourselves. People are finding it difficult to adhere to the food norms of modern times just on the basis of their personal knowledge of a few healthy recipes. They feel that if there is no variety in what they eat, then they have no option but to move to and forth from healthy and not too healthy food diet.
They want to find a solution to their problem. The cookery shows and the master chefs add lots of importance to healthy diet and this is why people are finding these shows a means of promoting their health and happiness.The increase in the rate of watching cookery shows can be attributed to the advancement in technology. The look of not only the TV programs but also the idiot box has got revived. There are plasma and LCD TVs that makes TV viewing all the more sophisticated. The digital video recorders have enabled people to cook as they watch. This means there is no need to even note down the recipes.
Just when you want to cook you can turn on the recorded program and cook the meal of your choice. One also gets the opportunity to download the program online. “Many people find it convenient downloading their favorite program onto their iPods so they can enjoy ipod TV. While many people worried about the effect that downloading will have on television programming it seems that it has only increased the popularity of TV shows.” (Ringsurf, para.
3) The popular cookery shows are packaging their already aired TV programs by putting together a few episodes in DVD’s. Hence the more the ways to access a program, the more is the increase in the number of cookery program lovers as they can access the shows through various means.Hence the rise of the cooking show in popularity mirrors the popular culture and behavioral patterns of both past and the present.
We gain insight about the changing gender roles and the accelerated pace of women’s emancipation. We get an idea of how consumerism is progressing and how the behavioral patterns that were not viewed acceptable in society earlier, is now slowly becoming the way of life. It mirrors the growth of the society, media and technology.
The analysis of the reasons of why cookery shows have gained so much of popularity throws light upon so many other developments and trends of the society at large.Works citedPollan M. Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch. 2009. 7TH May 2010.< http://www.
nytimes.com/2009/08/02/magazine/02cooking-t.html?pagewanted=all>Sampath. V.R. Anu Hassan’s Cooking Show.
2010. 7TH May 2010. <http://sampathvr.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/anu-hassans-cooking-show/>Cooking Schools 101. Celebrity Chefs. 2010. 7TH May 2010.
<http://www.cookingschools101.com/celebrity-chefs/>Ringsurf. Stars on TV. 2009.
7TH May 2010.<http://www.ringsurf.com/online/898-stars_on_tv.html>