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Machismo, Page and Screen

It’s the first day of fall and I’m using air conditioning. Just thought I’d briefly share my 90% humidity sadness. On to oh-so-serious matters…

MachomanI think I was recently complaining about food writing. I say, I think, because I’m not sure that I was all that concerned with writing but more the voices that accompany so much of it. On the one hand, weirdly confident married men with children who do stuff that they think is brilliant, on the other hand, an often female bounty-of-the-earth worshippers, paying homage to home cooking and the wisdom gleaned from humble but all-knowing grandmothers.

Macho food writing? I hadn’t really even considered it as an irritant because I wasn’t aware that it was a rampant genre. But British food writer Paul Levy has been stirring the pot with his Slate article that takes issue with the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Bill Buford, to name two.

I don’t have a problem with “coarse” descriptions, and the author comes across as a bit of a persnickety relic, but I don’t completely disagree with the tiresomeness of needing to be extreme. I’ve always thought it was strange that Bourdain has developed such a cult-like following by being opinionated, balls out (hate that phrase as much as the visual image) and culinarily open-minded.

I don’t begrudge his success; what I’ve been curious about is why there is no female equivalent. Why aren’t there any women doing the foul mouthed gourmand shtick (because they have better sense, some might argue)?

Judging from TV, you have to be sexualized (Giada, Nigella), accessibly girl next door (Rachael), or frumpy and unintimidating (Paula, Ina). Ok, that’s Food Network, what do you expect? But as contrast, they just picked up that bumbling yet personable smartass from drinking with locals, Three Sheets and gave him another travel show. That’s what men get to do on TV.

Women travel too, of course. I had the misfortune of catching part of Samantha Brown: Passport to Latin America in Belize. I don’t even know who this blah, late-in-life-mom type woman is (I can’t find an official bio anywhere but her fan wiki claims her favorite book is Atlas Shrugged. Strange, I was just reading about Ayn Rand and her influence on modern businessmen) but she made a huge fuss over cow tongue in a soup that was presented to her. She wouldn’t even try one bite, which was an instant turn off.

Sorry, now I’m meandering towards TV and away from writing, different and more physical. However, it would seem that there’s wide open opportunity for even vaguely interesting female food TV personalities. Or does the public enjoy what’s currently on offer?

More reactions to Paul Levy’s Slate article (my original focus):
The Grinder
Word of Mouth

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