Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Everett, WA
On the positive side, I notice when show hosts obviously have a lot of knowledge to impart, and are enthusiastic about it, without going overboard. I have learned a lot about the uses of cooking tools, knife technique, and other sundry things about kitchen equipment by watching cooking shows. I have also learned a lot of generalities about cooking, though I don't think I have ever set out to duplicate a recipe exactly as a show host has demonstrated. It's more like they give me a starting point for my own endeavors: "Oh, I never thought of doing that with that!"
On the negative side, it is much like when I'm reading a book, and I come to something that "kicks me out" of a story, like when an author proves he knows nothing about cars, but writes about them anyway, and is too lazy to do the research, in one or two sentences: "Bill shifted the engine into low..."
What can "kick me out" of a cooking show? I won't mention any names here, but I'm betting many of you will know who I am talking about.
I can't stand show hosts who are too chirpy. I don't like it when show hosts overplay the "down-home cornpone" stuff, like saying y'all two or three times in one sentence. And it really bugs me when show hosts mispronounce cooking terms or food names. Especially when they are someone whom I otherwise respect. There's one guy who can't seem to get more than two or three sentences out without mispronouncing something. This doesn't bother me much; I've come to expect it, and I rarely watch him anymore. And, please, don't misunderstand me, I am not referring to show hosts who speak English as a second language. I'm talking about native English speakers. And yes, a lot of the terms they mispronounce are from other languages, originally. This, to me, is no excuse. Most English words come from other languages.
One of my favorite show hosts regularly mispronounces "gyro" when referring to the sandwich. I can sort of excuse this, because it seems to be him and about eight million other people in NYC, but I learned this one when I was very young, and said it the wrong way to a very fierce-looking gyro vendor out here. I was about 18 at the time, as I recall, and he corrected me in such a fashion that guaranteed I would never forget. :) And yes, I know, "gyro" originally referred to the cooking device, not the sandwich.
I always wince when I see another guy whom I otherwise respect get near a bivalve mollusk, because he invariably starts talking about the "abductor muscle." It's like he's watched too many shows by that other guy I mentioned earlier. That guy says the same thing.
Some people will no doubt take me to task for being overly-picky, but, at least the way I see it, these people put themselves out there to educate, at least as much as they put themselves out there to entertain. When you say "Look, here's how you do this," you put yourself in the role of educator. About certain things in cooking, there are valid differences of opinion. However, the pronunciation of terms is not one of them. Well, okay, there are exceptions, with things like cumin, which has at least three accepted pronunciations, and those all came into acceptance because of common usage.
But what, for instance, would you think if someone came up to you with a tray at a formal function, and offered you a "hores-doover," or a "can-o'pee"?
Yes, the English language is a melting-pot of words from other languages, and ever-changing. However, I'd like to think that at least occasionally, it might change to the correct pronunciation of a food term, and thereby change for the better.
And sometimes it does. Many Americans, and even many show hosts, now know how to properly pronounce "jalapeņo," for instance. Although, recently I was in the supermarket, and there was a little demo table where a gal was giving out samples of jalapeņo jelly. I told her I had never seen jalapeņo jelly before, and she came back with "Oh, we've been making "hal-a PEEN-oh" jelly for several years now." It became almost like a game; I'd say jalapeņo, and she would immediately come back with "hal-a PEEN-oh" to correct me. And she probably learned that pronunciation from watching cooking shows.
I think people who put themselves forth as as educators have a responsibility to make sure the information they are providing is correct, and this includes the pronunciation of words.
Years ago, I got a note from my daughter's English teacher. It contained misspellings and poor grammar. I corrected, graded it, and sent it back. If you are going to teach a subject, in my opinion, you'd better know that subject. By the way, I never heard another peep from that teacher.
Okay, sorry. Rant over. However, you asked. :) I'm fully expecting some to take exception to this. Please feel free to disagree with me; this was not posted with any malice in mind, and I'm a big boy; I can take criticism. However, please read for content, and don't take little things out of context.
I'll stop learning when I stop breathing. Probably.