Monday, November 09, 2009
The Formulaic Word
So last week The F Word returned to our screens again, once again fronted by Gordon Ramsey and his gargoylesque face and personality. Ramsey of late seems to be everywhere from the Gordon’s Gin commercials and billboards to the pages of Heat magazine - where for reasons beyond my comprehension he is considered a hottie by the ladies? Honestly his face looks like a piece of old cheese that’s been ravaged by a force nine hurricane, complete with hail. Surely if that’s a look to aspire to I should just go and stick my head in a blender. Everywhere we go we see the scowling Glaswegian’s mug, and I have to say it gets tiresome. Either way we have another helping of his foodie delight; that in previous years has made for good viewing – being a food lover myself I enjoy seeing new ways to cook – but this year it feels like the show has run out steam.
New On the Menu
To be quite honest the format remains mostly unchanged this year, except that instead of pitting amateur chefs against each other in the F Word kitchen, Ramsey is on the hunt for Britain’s favourite local restaurant. Now that ruins the fun of the show to me, as instead of him launching blistering four-letter tirades on the poor chefs for being useless, as they invariably will be for being: you know, amateurs. But no, instead he’s dealing with competent chefs; who he actually seems to have respect for from the off. Instead of watching people buggering up the presentation of a hideously complex – when made under pressure – scallop and crayfish bellini, we see people who have actually impressed Gordon in the kitchen without suffering his trademark abuse first. It’s a sad fallacy about human nature that we enjoy people being rubbish, and then being picked on for being rubbish by a loudmouthed, obnoxious Scotsman with a face that could cut diamonds, but still it made for good entertainment. And if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Sure watching the ‘real’ chefs compete against each other, is quite interesting as there is still an element of competition between the two battling restaurants, but it’s not quite as fun without Ramsey speaking in pure cooking hyperbole, mixed with effing and blinding.
What hasn’t changed is Gordon poncing off round the world finding new and inventive ways to capture abnormal edible animals; normally killing them in cruel and unusual ways. This week for instance: he ended up biting the head of an Octopus, like a macabre, foodie, Ozzy Osbourne. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next week. Perhaps he’s going to go after owls with a flamethrower (for that fresh flambé effect), or punch a panda to death, to turn it into a very nice stew.
Also reappearing is the cook-off feature, where Gordon pits his culinary skills against a celebrity guest. Last week was everyone’s favourite walking tits, Jordan (or is it Katie Price I forget), who managed the unenviable feat of losing to Gordon 5 to 0 at the cook-off. Meanwhile whilst making Jordan’s chosen dish, (home-made chicken kievs and mash. To be honest I was expecting her to cook turkey dinosaurs, potato smiles and alphabetti spaghetti. You think you know a person eh?) the two kept up the usual PR friendly small-talk, about how Jordan spends £60,000 on hair extensions (!!!?), has a new book out, is going to dye her horse pink, and how Gordon expects he’s going to win etc etc.
Unfortunately, also reappearing is the devil’s possessed denture set, Janet Street-Porter. This time she’s rearing animals for slaughter, again. Except this time she’s preparing a mixed grill of a calf, a sheep, and chicken. Yes it’s a veritable barnyard at her house this year. Although nothing prepared me for the moment, where she said to one of the cows: “now I’m your mum” - which conjured up sinister, comparative images, between her and Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen - and sent terrified shivers down my spine.
Chewing the Fat
On overall reflection I feel this show has been overcooked for too long. The format is repetitive, the new ideas aren’t that effective and Gordon Ramsey seems to become less endearing each year. His weird turns-of-phrase also get right on my tits: like referring to the kitchen team as a ‘brigade’, as if he’s a Sergeant-Major in the Queen’s Royal Spatula regiment, or wine being called ‘plonk’ (I can imagine it doesn’t take long before ‘plonk’ makes someone look like a plonker). This man actually makes Channel Four’s other premier chef, Jamie Oliver, seem a less annoying person, and anyone who can do that has to ask some questions about themselves. DONE!