Thursday, 25 March 2010

Now I'm Annoyed. 'The Delicious Miss Dahl'

Image from The Guardian

Watching 'The Delicious Miss Dahl' the other night my ideologically unsound barometer tipped off the scale. The irritating opening with its cutesy cartoons of Sophie Dahl in her evolution from voluptuous model, to skinny malinky, to annoying sometimes poet/writer and now TV chef, in which her various moods and states of mind are depicted, looked like a promotional video for some sort of mental health charity. One probably catered towards self-indulgence and addictions to Cath Kidston.

The whole thing was an overworked incredibly smug affair, from the trinket laden kitchen - a place surely engineered only for the production of cupcakes and middle class female angst - to the forced coquettishness of Dahl herself, all learned doe-eyedness and embarrassment. You can sense the probably male producer she's talking to just off camera gesticulating at poor Sophie to sex it up with naughty quotes from Dorothy 'four dirty martinis and I'm under the host' Parker. And lord only knows who cooked up the fabulous allusion of buffalo mozzarella to the 'wobbly bit on someone's arm'. I'm literally having to be restrained from grabbing the nearest bingo wing I can find, if only to understand what the hell she was going on about.

The two vital ingredients that surely go into a successful cookery show are the cooking and the eating. Its not rocket science, yet Sophie does hardly any of either. I counted a woeful looking omelet with haddock, peanut butter fudge, some sort of female-looking fish dish, and a chocolate cherry compote thingy, none of which seemed to require much skill. This wouldn't have mattered so much if Dahl had offered up anything I might have actually wanted to cook or if her screen presence had oozed charisma and genuine humour. Instead a trip with Sophie to a bespoke Cheese monger where she 'slinked' mozzarella between her delicately manicured hands, and a mosey around an antique shop (as you do) where she proceeded to talk about down-playing the signing of her first book deal, had me shouting at the TV 'humility MUCH Sophie?'

This is the kind of telly, clearly directed at young impressionable women and some older ones who should know better, that grown women should wholeheartedly oppose. There is a strange paradox at work in a country who's government is so concerned about an impending obesity epidemic and yet its media has an overblown fixation with food. Particularly food and women. This has filtered down so far that what women eat is so ingrained in the cultural psyche, that a few weeks ago I read a scathing critique of cupcakes and vaginoplasty in The Independent. True this is the kind of assessment only possible in a country where food is so plentiful that fairy cakes are considered a food group in their own right and female genital mutilation is thankfully not common practice. Still, cupcakes are the kind of food, along with programmes such as 'The Delicious Miss Dahl' that have bred a new performative lifestyle choice, the appropriation of a role once reserved for 50's housewives and synonymous with drudgery. This is the era of Cath Kidston, gin and cake parties and a phoney femininity doused in rose water and swaddled in ditzy print tea-dresses. And its totally at the expense of substance and an insult to the thinking woman who doesn't enjoy glorified baby food.

And just when you thought cupcakes were bad enough, what's the latest craze to be imported? French Macaroons. Never mind Dorothy Parker under her host. I'm on the floor ...

1 comment:

  1. Have a beautiful, charming, eloquent lady who's comfortable with herself on the TV and a lot of people are going to have a problem with that.