Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rick Stein: Survivorman

The wife just finished watching an episode of Survivorman, a reality TV show in which Les Stroud gets dropped somewhere with virtually no equipment and supplies, plus a bunch of cameras, and has to survive for seven days while simultaneously being his own camera crew.

Then she switched to an episode of Rick Stein's Food Heroes, a foodie show from the BBC in which Rick Stein wanders around England to find people making good authentic English food, and occasionally does recipes from the stuff he finds. Rick is a bit pompous at times as he rails about the virtues of good old-fashioned food, but he certainly believes in what he's doing.

The idea of a trading places scenario came immediately to mind. I imagined Rick Stein left trapped in a modern American shopping mall for a week, and forced to find ways to survive. He certainly wouldn't deign to look at anything he could get at the food courts, so I imagined him scavenging for ways to swipe what few fresh ingredients those mini-restaurants get, supplementing them with forage from the potted plants. I pictured him buying a camp cookstove at a sporting goods store and trying to cook up a traditional steak and kidney pie, all the while moaning contemptuously about how hard it is to get proper ingredients in this desolate wasteland. All the while, busy shoppers bustling around him, casting odd glances at him now and then.

Meanwhile, what do you suppose Les Stroud cooks at home after a trip to the farmer's market? Probably very little by way of raw slugs and dried moss, but one can't help imagine him buying the worst produce at the farmer's market, cutting away the good parts, and then explaining patiently to the camera how you can make a surprisingly nutritious casserole out of the moldy bits from the potatoes, as he stands next to his unused Dacor stovetop and Subzero freezer, cutting up vegetables with a multitool and cooking them in an old coffee can held over a crude parabolic reflector fashioned from a discarded piece of a shipwrecked boat.

I would so love to watch those two shows.

1 comment:

litlfrog said...

I bet Stein would also try making friends with some of the food court employees. He might find a young Bosnian immigrant working at Taco Bell who actually knows how to cook, but hasn't gotten the opportunity before. They'd boost some of the cheese and lettuce, swipe chicken parts from the Wok and Roll, and the adventure would be on!