Friday, December 16, 2005
  The "C" Word
Next week we can say goodbye to The F Word, which, even by today's standards, is a rather nasty show. In today's Britain we can't get enough of TV programmes dominated with conceited bullies like Simon Cowell and the absolutely loaded but totally uncreative hectors on The Dragon's Den. In the TV cookery world (and regrettably this flourishing world is not facing impending doom from too many gas emissions) Gordon Ramsey is the poster boy for sadism. Over the last few years he has mugged for the camera while browbeating chefs younger than him, coming out with awful, rehearsed one-liners and swearing like a true grown up.

In the F Word we get a good look at what new chefs can expect when entering his kitchen for the first time. If they are nervous than it's perfectly justified; Ramsey oversees a true hell's kitchen full of sweat and testosterone, a masculine world where young chefs can look forward to being called "big boy" (oh dear...) in the brief intervals when they are not getting clobbered. And they shouldn't expect to learn anything. While Ramsey may tell the camera that he is offering a young chef the chance to work in his kitchen (the implication being that he is really rather noble and wants to bring out the best in these young saps), he clearly has no intention of developing their culinary skills, certainly not while the film is rolling. He waves away any young chefs that want to ask him a question, clarify matters or actually learn something, telling them to shut up, and bawls at the ones that don't ask questions, don't learn his methodology and fuck things up. It's a lose-lose situation for anybody who hasn't cooked the recipe beforehand (and bear in mind that these are very obscure and pretentious recipes that a prize-winning 100 year-old martian who has travelled the universe and back while also running a three-Michelin Star restaurant might not be familiar with). Instead they should telepathically know exactly how Big-boy Ramsey wants things done beforehand. Last week he gave one poor lady this precise treatment, telling her to shut up when she wanted a detail of the new recipe made clear. She was visibly shaken and later accidentally served raw bacon, resulting in her being kicked out of the kitchen. It was obvious that she was concentrating so much on not offending Big-boy that more important matters slipped her mind. Yesterday he tried to encourage one of his strapping chefs. "Come on big-boy", he said, "bend those bones". Coming from an ex-footballer who retired early through injury,that is exceptionally stupid advice.

All this creates a very nasty contrast with his other side: Gordon the obsequious schmoozer, who leaves the kitchen now and then (well, quite a lot actually) to gush all other his wealthy guests, especially the celebrities. Many a time he will plonk himself down at a table with a bunch of young ladies and start talking about the food in laborious detail, babbling on about the texture, the essence, the hidden ingredients, how it slide dow the throat, how it slides out the arse. I certainly wouldn't want my night out ruined by some control-freak tit who wants to sit at my table and talk about food. That to me sounds like a miserable evening out. If I want to talk about food, I'll go to a seminar on chicken. Fuck OFF and let us eat. (Actually, a good idea for those who do enjoy prattling on about food, when The F Word comes out on special edition, deluxe, sneezeproof DVD, go to the "extra features and deleted scenes" option that they all have. While Hollywood movies have tiresome documentaries showing how the stunts were done - ["obviously we couldn't ACTUALLY shoot this scene on Mars, so we used a blue-screen" duh!] - The F Word might just treat you to an in focus, blow-by-blow account of how Gordon makes his desserts. Just think: "Gordon Ramsey; Behind the Flan"). It's just as excruciating watching Ramsey talk normally as watching him shout abuse. At normal volume he strains like he's taking a shit, his face curlig up and his eyes bulging in their sockets.

One thing is for sure, this show isn't really done with a cookery-loving audience in mind. Every week he shows us a recipe, without really telling us how to make it. Sure, all chefs have their presenting styles, from Delia Smith overly cautiously spelling everything out to Jamie Oliver liberally dumping his ingredients in a pan. Gordon's technique is to list the ingredients in a gravelly voice, without ever giving us measurements or timings. One monologue on yesterday's show (he was cooking 'Sea Bass with Pepper Sauce') went: "Salt. Basil. White wine vinegar. Reduce" What? For how long, how much? Another went: "Score. Salt. Thyme. Olive oil". He is not so much teaching us how to cook as narrating a competition in his thick head where various ingredients compete to find out which is hardest. He never told us how long to cook our sea bass for, which is handy because I'm still working on the beef wellington I started last month. It's turned grey. Is it ready yet?

And would you want it anyway, this pretentious slop? As I mentioned earlier, this is not food you eat. You might photograph it or paint an oil painting of it. Gordon often looks like he wants to have sex with it (clue: don't kill the animal beforehand Big-boy). It wont feed you. Gordon's fetish for decoratig his meals is most clearly seen in the weekly competition he has with a celebrity guest. Both prepare a dessert, like chocolate brownies or fig tart. There is a recuuring theme with this part of the show: Gordon welcomes the guest (schmoozing), Gordon and guest start recipe, Gordon adds lots of extra shit (nuts in a chocolate brownie? you TWAT), Gordon tells guest they will lose, panel of tasters eat both and declare the guest to be the winner because it tastes like food and not like an antique, Gordon throws a strop and declares that the panel don't know what real food is. The food in his restaurant is even worse. Gordon probably insists that he is adventurous and sophisticated. pah! Strictly for his benefit, here are some ingredients he should try for the next series. Just to help:

Poison Dart Frog

The poison dart frog, belonging to the family of Dendrobatidae. They receive their name from the toxin pumiliotoxin found in their skin (cook the skin Gordon). The most poisonous variety is Phyllobates terribilis, also kown as the golden poison dart frog, presumably because it is covered in a crisp, tasty batter. You can separate the poison by roasting them over a fire (don't bother with that part Gordon). And if a fellow chef is pissing him off, Gordon can use the poison on his arrows (you do carry arrows, don't you Big-boy?)

Sulphuric acid. Discovered in the 9th century by Persian
physician and alchemist Ibn Zakariya al-Razi, this would be an intersting addition to any meal. While killjoys might point out that this kills (the famous rhyme goes: "Johnny was a chemist's son, but Johnny is no more. What Johnny thought was H2O was H2SO4") people and causes acid rain, real men drink it with their Guiness.

Platypus. The only venomous mammal, this wont kill you, but it will uspset the tummy, forcing you to throw up that shitty appetiser you were served, which sounds nice, but translates from the French as: goat's balls doused in whale semen.

Lithium. One of my favourite alakli metals (behind Sodium, of course), this will turn crimson when you cook it. It can be used to combat mania and depression. So eat up you miserable bastard.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Gordon is also a bit of a sadist to animals, and if I can get serious for a bit, the events on yesterday's show were absolutely disgraceful. In the preceding weeks Gordon has been growing his Chrsitmas dinner. He has kept a pen of Turkeys in his garden, named them after other chefs he didn't like and let his kids play with them. Every week he paraded them in front of the camera, boasting about how they would end up in his stomach, joking about how they be slaughtered. Yesterday he went through with it, showing their deaths in a mobile slaugher unit in his garden. As he walked them to their deaths he continued to brag, almost as if he was proud in having had the fortune to be born higher up in the food chain.

Now, eating an animal is one thing. Most of us do it. And while we do so, we generally don't fantasize about how it was killed. That's a fetish. It's worse than playing with your food and it implies that Ramsey is a rather small and insecure man who needs to dominate to stop feeling like a retard.

And just like Jamie Oliver has his school meals campaign, so Ramsey has his. To get women back into the kitchen. Apparently too few women know how to cook, not too few people, too few women. That's very Victorian of him. Perhaps I may suggest a campaign to make more children seen and not heard, or one to get more black people back on slave galleys. Get with the times you megalomaniac wingnut.

So, in conclusion, I hate Gordon Ramsey. How mature of me. But seriously, a culture that encourages more of this nasty behaviour is not one I want to prolong. Assholes like Ramsey need cutting down to size. Some may claim he is like that because he is so driven and focussed, a perfectionist. Perhaps, but he is a very selective perfectionist. People skills, communication and tolerance are arts too.
It amazes me how one person can fixate on beating down another without thought for compromise. Leech, did you decide that Ramsey had not shown you how to cook sea bass properly , so you thought you would analyse his whole performance, trying to read as much bad out of it as possible? I watched the very same program a few nights ago and must have received a very different version of the show over the airwaves. For one, if Ramsey is a sadistic animal mutilator, who sucks the life out of his feathered victims to amplify his own, as you claim… why did he not try and force his brutality upon his children, by branding them with machetes to do the job themselves.. or at least make them audience, while Ramsey himself rips the jugular out of the beast with his mouth??? In fact anybody who watched the show would recognise that he employed a licence professional to carry out the operation, while Ramsey ensured the rest of the flock remained out of sight of their fate. Ramsey also enquired whether electrocution was the most humane way to depart their lives!
Amongst other ranting, you also mentioned that Ramsey’s campaign to get women back into the kitchen. Your reference to the campaign as you KNOW is taken out of context! If you look at any professional chef, the odds are they are male. He is not saying women belong in the kitchen.. He is not saying more men cook than women.. He is saying that women don’t seem to get passionate about cooking! It’s left to male chefs these days to invent new ways to bring life to food. Housewives / mums don’t have an easy life, don’t get me wrong.. but they tend just to slop up the same old meals day after day without thought to be creative. On the other side of the coin, stick in a man in the kitchen, and he’ll try to show-off n see what he can invent. Now I’m sure this ends up with more disasters then invention, but it’s a real eye-opener to see men dominate this art! All Ramsey is doing, is trying to get women confident with culinary experimentation. I will sympathise with you a bit on that subject, because his program normally shows some bimbo who claims she has never heard of a ‘saucepan’ and gets her to cook ‘beef n Yorkshire pudds’ (which I tot were the worst looking puds I have ever seen).
Yes I agree Leech, Ramsey is notoriously bullish in the kitchen, and overly in both our and many others opinion. I believe he wants to make his name famous for not only top quality cooking, but because he wants to be the Simon Cowell of the kitchen. Both these people and many others before them believe that acting like that in the media makes them look better at their profession, which is absolute lunacy.. get a life n a grip the pair of you!!! But please Leach, don’t confuse his control insecurity, with lack of talent! He is very passionate about cooking and so what! He prides himself with using the best and freshest ingredients and making sure a meal is always nothing short of what he deems as perfect! You judge his food as something you wouldn’t want to eat.. but have u ever tried his food at one of his restaurants? Don’t worry he wont bother sitting down with you, because you wouldn’t have signed up to appear in the specially setup program. The celebrities know what their role in this appeared restaurant and know why cameras are floating about the place and the reason there is no bill for the meal! They chose to put themselves at Ramsey’s entertainment disposal. Back to subject, I think you should wait to pass judgment on the quality of his cooking until you have tried it first hand! (I cant say I have tried it, but would relish the opportunity, and certainly wouldn’t knock it until then) On a similar note, you said he didn’t teach you how to cook your sea bass.. well it doesn’t take too much intelligence (and from reading your previous blogs.. I know you sound intelligent), to judge when he uses a pinch of one ingredient and a handful of another. As far as cooking times for your bass.. he did say how long to cook the fish.. ‘UNTIL THE FLESH TURNS WHITE!’ – how can you expect hime to tell you more than that? Cooking times depend on how thick the fish (or your fillet beef etc) is!!!
*sniff sniff* I smell burning mate – time to get that ‘rubber’ wellington out the oven ;)
oh, I can compromise. first things first I should get my facts straight and spell the dude's name correctly. RamsAy, not RamsEy. still, that error aside, I stand by what I wrote, especially since it was more of a creative bender than a serious critique.

firstly, I'll handle the only stone-faced serious point that i made. the killing of the turkeys. I'm definately not going to compromise over this, and the fact that the show received a couple of complaints makes me feel a bit less lonely on this issue. While he did employ a professional (sorry if this sounded out of context, but I didn't mean to imply that the mobile slaughter unit I wrote about was his own) to kill the birds I think it is justified to be pissed of that he chose to boastfully show the events on TV. If he is any more humane for not biting out its jugular, making his kids kill it or bringing them to watch the slaughter than that is another issue, and since I didn't raise this question I don't feel the need to answer. He already crossed the line by filming it and bragging about it. The humanity of their deaths was clearly nowhere near the forefront of his mind. I also didn't call him a mutilator. You don't mutilate animals while electrocuting them (or getting someone to do it for you) and I would never be so rash as to call even diced turkey fillets "mutilated bird." Nor is cutting up a Christmas meal mutilation. Having worked in a chicken processing plant I know what happens to such dead birds. The emphasis is on a systematic, swift death, not a ritualized and personalized killing. I also didn't claim he "sucks the life out of his feathered victims to amplify his own", although I would like to meet this Turkey-vampire creature of which you speak.

Ramsay's campaign to get more women back in the kitchen was not geared towards making them professional chefs, so the fact that most professionals are men is neither here nor there. This leaves the question of why more non-professional women need to get back in the kitchen rather than their male counterparts. In several editions he would teach the lady in question how to cook, sit down with her and her husband and then ask him if this was an improvement. The idea that the man should cook was never in question (true, some editions didn't have a male figure, but this is grossly outweighed by the ones which did. And about two weeks ago came an excruciating scene where two single women had to use their new- found craetive cooking skills to woo young single men I'm afraid old stereotypes die hard with Gordon Ramsay). From this angle it just seems condescending. I also don't see your distinction between men and women, that if you leave a man in the kitchen he will try and be more creative. That seems to be another generalisation, especially if you feel that their efforts result in more disasters than triumphs. Would these disasterous male chefs not benefit from learning some straight forward cooking? After all, merely being passionate about food wont feed a family, especially if rubber beef wellington is on the menu. It seems illogical to me that a woman, after a hard days work, would slop stuff on plate, while a man in the same situation would experiment with the spice rack. Is this genetic? Based on the fact that no other creative cookery show that I know of devotes time to focus exclusively on one gender, I would say no.

The professional arena is a vastly different matter. Surely, given his aforementioned strong opinions, the first thing to consider is how this passion of his can repulse novice chefs. His berating of young chefs, including women, does nothing to encourage them. Like I said, in a previous edition he shouted down one young lady for trying to learn more about her art by questioning what she was doing. The only passion this is going to induce is one for following orders and pretending to know what she is doing. When someone commits themself to going on TV with that man they know what they are letting themselves in for. That is the only justification for them having to endure those tantrums and frankly I don't think that is a very good one.

I also didn't say he was not talented. I never even hinted at this. There is no confusion at all. I stated that he seems insecure and I stand by this. When he lost the chocolate brownie competition he refused to serve them in the restaurant because he felt hard done by. That his were of a higher quality was not in doubt. And when I was passing judgement onhis cooking, I was ranting about the complexity and snobbery of his food, not the quality.

I don't want to be too pinickity about your jokes (I admire creativity in most forms and I don't like shooting people down, but since you have been a bit trigger-happy with me it's only fair that I permit myself one small indulgence), but if I smell burning, does that not mean it's too late for my beef wellington? I have to pre-empt the burning no? I think I'll be needing some cooking times for that. He gave none, and I'm sure you don't want me sticking my head in the oven.

I hope there is some method to my madness here. I'm no character assassin (nor am I very intelligent). I think you find me reasonable when I say that bullies, those who stamp on developing creativity and posers twist a nerve with me. Those that take me a bit too literally don't, which is probably why I appreciated your comments.
Tsk tsk.. I've tried your cooking once, Leech. The rice was dry, stingy with the meat, but the hospitality was exceptional. (I'm hoping honesty is seen as my prevailing quality here)

Speaking of bad-taste british entertainment, I caught a glimpse of The Dragon's Den last night. It was... The Apprentice meet Simon Cowell. Also, if you want to see a very very bad rendition of The Office that will make you cringe anytime of the day, see the American version. Yet more proof that America has to bastardise every good foreign film/show into a language they can understand (basically english with the american twang). Japan's 'The Ring' for example completely derailed off the original plot in Hollywood's follow-up 'Ring 2'. In fact, they should completely rename their version of Office to 'Why British Humour Doesn't Work in America'. Their inability to even create an original plot from the British series together with slapstick humour leaves a somewhat distasteful impression that it's either a really bad rendition of the british series, or more proof that Americans can't make a good film/show without spending 4-figured sums.
Ha. your sister's rice was fine, never forget that. she said so, although now i find myself wishing i had her exact words in writing, and verified by independent ajudicators (petty, me? i've got a reputation to save). i think we established that i had given you the rice from the bottom of the pan. which was just mean, come to think of it. i think Ramsay would have chucked it away and made me start again.

anyway, 2004 aside, the people on the Dragon's Den are probably worse than Gordon, because they are unreasonably smug and put money before creativity and quality control. they're full-time bullies, but as far as i know, they have yet to kill anyone on their show.

don't you like the US Office? i thought it was ok. my only issue with it was that because everybody was so smooth the characters couldn't convey that sort of edgy, uncomfortable atmosphere. i've seen worse remakes. Vanilla Sky, what the HELL was that all about? much like your concern with The Office, I really cannot fathom how they managed to make an identical version of the film while also making it so cringeworthy. as for Ring 2, I've heard that now Naomi Watts is doing credible, popular films, she would like every single human being on the planet to pretend that it never existed.
I have to say I am slightly disappointed in you Leech, just as I was the half-cooked dinner-filler you called rice. I mean first you actually follow Desperate Housewives and now you think that the US 'Office' is borderline OK! heh..

Yes I continue to marvel at the american's talent to perform a rendition exactly like it but completely different at the same time..if that makes any sense. And what are you on about Naomi Watts now doing credible films post-Ring 2? Are you downplaying films such as 21 grams and...dare I even say Muholland Drive? I thought she executed a fine display of bossoms in those two films.
I thought I'd add as well, to anyone living in the UK and happened to catch the Quiz 2005 show with Jimmy Carr featuring Gordon Ramsey as a contestant. Personally I have never seen any of Gordon's own shows. But he did appear incredibly tame on the quiz show.

I wonder what psychoanalysis bullcrap we can pull out of this one...?
hmm, I can't claim that my rice had feelings, but I do. sniff

Mulholland Drive, the greatest film ever made, is not what I'd call popular. no, the absence of a hairy monkey prevented that. none of my friends appreciate it to an acceptable standard. it's a pretty strange fact that i actually view the bosom action as a pain. it getrs in the way of the story. uh, how pathetic I must seem to you bipeds.

Gordon Ramsay's tame outing probably showed once again that he is an undead were-creature who sucks up to celebrity luvvies but pisses on mere mortals. you can't bully Jimmy Carr like you can a 21 year old chef. And is a quiz show the best arena to get the claws out? Any comedians there would have cut him to ribbons. Or turkey fillets
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