The secret to Osama Bin Laden's trim figure

2011-01-05 09:11
It never ceases to amaze me in what fields different ethnic groups excel. Thus Afrikaners, who are often stereotyped as glum racists, have produced some very fine hip-hop singers.

Black South Africans, who are stereotyped as aggressive and violent, have given us the heritage of Madiba. And the British, who have been stereotyped as humourless and stiff-upper-lipped, have been known to produce the best TV comedy programs of the last thirty-odd years.

I admire the British for another reason. In spite of the fact that, after inventing the famed British breakfast they still don't know how to get their bacon crisp – they boil it in water instead of frying it in a pan, I suspect! – they have given us the wonder of British Food TV and the tradition of celebrity chefs.

Darrel Bristow-Bovey was right when he wrote "cooking is the new sex"! And it's all because of the British. For, believe it or not, it was the supposedly prudish British who gave us The Naked Chef! (Who, in thpite of hith thlight thpeech impediment, maketh jolly good food!)

During all those years when BBC Food was aired on our local DSTV network, they caused a culinary transformation in South African households. In short, they rescued us from Kook en Geniet and introduced us to the wonders of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and sushi.


But, sadly, this program was discontinued, and all we have left are Huisgenoot Wenresepte Volume 72 and Marita van der Vyver! (Marita isn't too bad, in spite of her predilection for cold leftovers, but I have yet to see her naked!)

Great was my joy and anticipation when, shortly before Christmas, The Food Channel was introduced on DSTV. This time, not British cooking, but American cooking was featured. I couldn't wait to see what the chefs Stateside had to offer!

Now, please don't misunderstand me. Some of my best Twitter followers are American. I admire the American constitution, the moon landings, the ideas of liberty and free enterprise, and I applaud the fact that they had the courage to elect a black president (though of course we did it first).

But if this new Food Channel is what is happening cuisine-wise in America right now, I'd rather eat limp bacon in the Lake District or mopanie-wurms in Soweto.


Program after program of out-of-focus footage, fatty and lacklustre recipes, pseudo-militaristic cooking competitions, lewd humour, evangelistic fanaticism and ghastly hairstyles abound. Is this what Gordon Ramsay has done to America, or have they always been like that?

Oh, Ainslee, how I miss your spontaneous bursts of song! Nigella, Nigella, wherefore art thy pre-middle-aged allure? Anthony, how I long for your lopsided grin and nasal puns! Come back, Rick Stein, all your fishy habits are forgiven!

After watching the American Food Channel for a couple of weeks in search of something decent, something I can use, anything as remotely entertaining as Come Dine With Me or Floyd in Iraq (I'm not sure if Floyd ever actually went to Iraq, but if he did, I can assure you he would have discovered some fascinating Iraq-ese delicatessen, or, failing that, invented some himself from leftover bombshells and a dash of olive oil), I have lost all hope. There's just nothing there but dough, thick-based pizzas and cholestrol.

At the risk of being cited for hate-speech, I must admit I'm starting to understand why Al Qaeda hates them so much. Imagine how unflattering a McDonald's paunch would look on Osama?

"Wheat, wheat, all is wheat", Woody Allen said in Love and Death. "Starch, starch all is starch", that is all I got from the Food Channel. Frankly, I'd rather browse through the semi-nude profile pics in Blueworld…      

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