Ever since the family got a cable link-up I have found it a source of great intellectual development…whenever they turn on the television and the petrol explosions and Kardashians start up I have run to another room and opened a book. But I do slope back in and glance at the screen when they feature the food channel.
If you think of it, this is not surprising; food is one of the great necessities for life. It is just a matter of time before the cable networks also start screening air, water, sleep, and sex channels. Perhaps they already do.
I stand amazed at some of the things that the food channel presents – I understand a program can be made about the cheeses of France or the correct way to cook bison. We all want to know this and how better to find out than to watch someone else trussing up a half tonne roast over a wood fire and then basting it for a week. It is not the sort of thing you want to have to find out by trial and error.
But they also feature disturbing insights into the manufacture of some foods. The sight of a cement mixer full of rat snouts being turned into Belgian paté is hard to turn away from. The life cycle of the tomato, done by Disney and set to a theme by Paganini. A scream-off between English and Italian chefs. The beer rocket.
In some cases, it has radically altered the cooking and diet here in the house. Moose is no longer on the menu. Nor, thankfully is emu, kangaroo, or crocodile. People ask if it is a food allergy or religious dietary law. I say yes to whatever they ask, but the real answer is I have seen what these creatures look like after being run over by a semi trailer or a belly-dump Euclid and no amount of gravy can entirely erase the sight. For the same reason I avoid dishes containing house cat or magpie.
But I am always up for watching people decorate cakes or make confectionery. The ingenuity and artistry are to be applauded, and as long as one does not have to pay the prices they demand in the chichi choco shops, no harm is done. I can still get Kit Kat at the local servo. The only thing I regret is the fact that the Canadian Coffee Crisp bar vanished from Western Australian shelves.