Figs figs figs


I’ve been watching a lot of The Galloping Gourmet on the Food Network lately. Talk about tearing down my youthful illusions.

Um, let me explain.

When I was growing up we didn’t have cable television. Not that I grew up before cable was big, but my parents didn’t see any need to receive (or pay) for it. They’ve moved off that stance lately and finally signed up in 1998 — I guess Dad just needed more of a sports fix than you can get off the air nowadays.

What all this meant was that when I was growing up (and during the summers when I started boarding school and later, college), I got most of my entertainment from PBS. Good old WTTW-11 Chicago. I watched Doctor Who, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Two’s Company, and cooking shows. Lots of cooking shows.

This was when I first got acquainted with Graham Kerr. Not in person, of course — just that special relationship a viewer has with a favorite tv personality, somewhere at the mid-point between “casual fan” and “psychotic stalker.” He was hard not to like, with those crazy suspenders, that accent, the sense of humor. Plus the total adherence to non-fat, healthy cooking, and somehow the food still looked so good! I think his show was called Graham Kerr’s Kitchen.

Thus was I totally unprepared to deal with The Galloping Gourment — didn’t even have an inkling that Graham Kerr was well-known as a television chef back in the 60s, nor… this. The entire paradigm of this show.

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the dated clothing, the decor, and Kerr’s slightly goofy demeanor. After awhile, though, you realize that it all reinforces the unstructured, swinging-bachelor-pad gestalt of this show. It is, on every level of its existence, completely and utterly hedonistic. Gallons of clarified butter, heavy cream, thinly veiled sexual innuendo, and frequent imbibing of wine. If you don’t know what I mean, combine the ideas of free love and British cuisine together and you’ll have it in a nutshell.

The recipes look so instantly fatal that watching them being made is kind of like observing a train wreck in slow motion. One thing hasn’t changed, though — the food still looks tasty! Also, the man oozes a charisma and capricious joie de vivre that certainly seems to have become dulled in older age. It’s no wonder there was a cult of personality built up around him and his show when it first aired.

No suspenders, though. Still, makes for fascinating, fun viewing, while one ponders the eternal question: Did aliens abduct Graham Kerr in the 70’s and replace him with a robot?

I think it’s time for a new Galloping Gourmet cult. Just don’t eat too much of the food.

[Some online research seems to indicate that he had a near-fatal accident (among other misfortunes) and then discovered religion. I guess that would tone anyone down. Would explain the obsession with healthy eating too, I think.]

Speaking of food, had dinner last night at Restaurant Zoë in Belltown. Condensed review:

(1) Cocktail: The Siren. Tasted kind of like a jalapeno margarita, with a big slice of pepper floating in the middle of the glass. Was actually very tasty, though sugar on the rim of the glass made for unpleasant, sticky hands.

(2) Raw albacore appetizer, made with what seemed to be a cucumber-dill sauce and potatoes. Simply amazing!

(3) Roasted pork with figs, citrus-flavored couscous and fried sage. Wonderful stuff. Loved the figs. All restaurants should use figs, in quantity and more often. Not quite up to the level of the appetizer, though.

Ambience seems perfect for a romantic evening. Also, in a big bonus, there was a man who would keep your bread plate full with as much diligence as a water-filler in an Indian restaurant. And it was good bread!

Song of the day: LASZLO, “Beloved”

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  • mlee

    "Residential" high school.

  • haglund

    Not only that, Graham Kerr used to be quite the alcoholic. If you notice, in the older shows, he almost always uses liquor in something. Since he became sober, he changed focus and started showcasing a healthier variety of foods. Can't really say I liked him before or after myself. Leaned towards Justin Wilson and Yan for personality and charisma.

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