Tuesday 14 August 2007

tv guide

Two new cookery programmes have debuted recently on channel four: "Cook Yourself Thin" and Jamie Oliver's "Jamie at Home." As a food show addict, this seemed like very good news indeed, particularly as the new soft focus, seductive spoon-licking Nigella series doesn't air until September.

"Cook Yourself Thin" touts itself as a guide to cooking healthy versions of our fatty favourites. I'm all for this concept; far too many people think that going on a diet means eating plain lettuce leaves with a tablespoon of fat free cottage cheese three meals a day. I've long been an advocate of making healthy food enjoyable and tasty (hear that, Gillian McKeith? You look like a Pez dispenser designed by Tim Burton), and I was hoping that's what this programme would illustrate. Instead, heavily made up women with names like Harry and Gizzi maniacally whip up marginally healthy food, while they giggle like they've popped into someone's kitchen while out on a hen night. Each week, they attempt to teach a slightly overweight woman to follow their recipes and drop a dress size. So far, they've been successful which is pretty impressive - as long as you haven't noticed the small disclaimer at the end of the programme informing us that these ladies have also been following a calorie-restricted diet and exercise regime. So apparently, eating less and exercising can help you lose weight. Who knew?

On the flipside, we have dishes adorned with "glugs" of olive oil courtesy of "Jamie at Home." Love him or hate him, I have always admired the fact that he makes cooking seem easy and accessible. His new series focuses on simple cooking using one main ingredient, such as tomatoes and courgettes. As always, there's an Italian slant on his dishes which is probably why it appeals to me so much. There is, however, one slightly unnerving aspect to this show: Brian the gardener. Looking a bit like someone Jamie found sleeping in his strawberry patch, took pity on, and decided to employ, Brian sucks the life out of this programme. He's no Matt James, that's for sure. My only other complaint is the way Jamie speaks to someone standing slightly to the right of the camera. Hello! We're over here! Hello! Oh bless, I think he's got a lazy eye.

Tarts or tomatoes? I vote for the tomatoes. Especially if they're grown by Matt James.

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