Wednesday, August 21

Guilty Pleasure Alert - In the dog days of August, with nothing on TV, I'm developing a few new guilty pleasures.

Having finally gotten BBC America, it should come as no surprise that I'm thoroughly enjoying Changing Rooms (the better-paced inspiration for old favorite Trading Spaces) and So Graham Norton. But my greatest TV joy of late comes from two shows hosted by Rachael Ray on the TV Food Network: 30-Minute Meals and $40-a-Day.

On 30-Minute Meals, Ray is an unapologetic anti-Martha. By making meals live-to-tape, she has to cut corners and use store-bought ingredients, like a normal person would do. Rachael is big on making expressive noises: laughing, chortling, snorting, mmmming and awwwing. When she's not yucking it up, or ham-handedly mooning over her own culinary creations, Rachael is yammering on, in an incredibly predictable fashion, inspiring me to think about starting a 30-Minute Meals drinking game. (1 swig for every time she mentions her grandpa Emmanuel, 2 swigs if she explains her "garbage bowl" concept, and chug if she uses the acronym "EVOO"--extra virgin olive oil, to the uninitiated).

On $40-a-Day, Rachael pretends to be able to eat well while traveling on a budget. Of course, her tallies never represent the cost of taxes and tips, so her 40 bucks goes a whole lot farther than yours or mine. And, it doesn't count if the price of your breakfast is included in the cost of your hotel room. There are so many unwritten exceptions, it's got the intricacies of a schoolyard game of foursquare. Why not just eat all three meals at McDonalds and pocket the extra cash, Rach?