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Want to get in shape? Cook!

Posted Aug 06 2009 10:03pm

Did you read the New York Times magazine last Sunday?  Michael Pollan wrote “Out of the Kitchen, on to the Couch”.  Pollan questions America’s obsession with watching cooking shows on TV rather then actually cooking at home!

It really is amazing isn’t it?  I remember when I was producing a TV talk show in San Francisco and we hired a focus group to watch some 2 minute segments of our show to get an idea of what the audience liked.  These were 2 minute segments, simply samples of the show, to give the group a flavor of what the show was about. Because most of the segments actually ran longer than 2 minutes on the air the focus group didn’t even get to see how they ended.

When the cooking segment started, something strange  happened. The people in the focus group grabbed pencils and paper and started writing down the recipe!  They knew the recipe would be incomplete, but they took notes anyway!  That day I found out something very important. No matter what the recipe is, people love watching a cooking segment!

We had lots of cooking segments on AM, it was just the beginning of the Celebrity Chef phenomenon!  Cookbooks were flying off the shelves and America fell in love with James Beard, Jacques Pepin, Wolfgang Puck and yes…our favorite, Julia Child.

We had Julia on many times, one time she even started a fire on the set.  I will never forget when she was preparing a pig for roasting, the host asked her if she cut off the tail and Julia said, “No dear, there is a convenient little place right under the tail and you just tuck it in there.”  Needless to say we were laughing hysterically in the control room!  That story was told many, many times at station parties, dinner parties, bars, bus stops, anywhere people would listen – with all of us doing our best Julia Child accent!

That’s why we loved Julia!  She was so unpredictable in a completely sincere way!  That’s why I loved Pollan’s article – if you haven’t read it check it out.

But what really struck me was Pollan’s thoughts about how cooking shows have changed.  How cooking shows now stress fast quick and easy cooking tips.

Julia loved to cook.  Michal Pollan talked about how Julia worked up a sweat whisking the cream, or how she tomahawked a fish skeleton or rolfed the butter into  the chicken.  He asked, “Have you ever seen Martha Stewart break a sweat?”

His point was that Julia was less interested in making cooking fast and easy with the goal being the meal at the end.  She was more interested in the idea of cooking as an art which not only engaged the tastebuds but the mind and yes, the muscles.

Cooking should be physical! (after all this is a health blog you know)

When I work out at the gym and go into the locker room, guess what the gals are watching?  Cooking!  There must be a wild sensual sensation that happens when Paula Dean is adding whipped cream to brownies drenched in chocolate sauce with just a tiny taste of cherries!  Oh sure we all go, “OMG!  That is so bad for you…but we watch it anyway.

So my friends, when you decide on your next meal…make it from scratch and sweat like Julia!  Cooking should be a journey in the kitchen, not a quick trip.  Your family, and your stomach, will thank you for the homecookin’!

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