Reality TV with a heart

Popculture Vulture
Originally published in The Star on April 4, 2010.

Those shows that people watch with train-wreck interest have remarkably taken an altruistic turn.

I JUST don’t have the constitution for reality TV shows. I don’t know how you guys do it, but watching them turns me into a ball of nerves.

Seeing those singers on American Idol stand in line waiting for the vote that will squash their musical dreams? Stressful!





Jamie Oliver sets up a community kitchen in Huntington, West Virginia, where he teaches families and kids how to prepare healthy meals.

And surely there’s something better for the nerves than Amazing Race, where jet-lagged contestants race from one continent to another, sniping at each other while they’re at it. I feel jet-lagged just watching them.

How about a show about a bevy of women trying to win a bachelor’s heart by saying what he wants to hear? Yuck. Watching Type-A personalities win Donald Trump’s favour by outscheming each other? Hey, the last thing I want to do after leaving the office is to witness more backstabbing and office politics.

Okay, I’m a marshmallow. Looking at people’s dreams being dashed on TV reduces me to tears, and nasty people on TV, like the ones in real life, make me ill. Why are reality shows entertaining, again?

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Review: Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver

To be honest, I never did understand the fascination people have with Jamie Oliver. My girlfriends gush over his cooking books – glossy, overpriced things, I thought – and said how “simple” his recipes were.

Well, I finally got an inkling when I was channel surfing in Britain two winters ago. Jamie appeared in an advertisement for a chain of British supermarkets, and he was demonstrating how to cook pasta with the products from the supermarket. He seemed to have a talent to make the entire cooking process seem so simple, straightforward and dare I say it, sexy. Also, and he seemed to enjoy every bit of the process – as if cooking was the most wonderful thing in the world.

So, when I was given the chance to review Oliver’s latest bestseller Ministry of Food, I jumped at it. Ministry of Food is aimed at the cooking-challenged, and I fit the bill. To prove his point that “anyone can learn to cook in 24 hours” I actually chose two recipes to try out and even served it to my guests at a dinner hosted at my house!

Was my experiment a success or a bust? Read on at Crash Course in Cooking.