Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Barefoot in the Kitchen

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Barefoot in the Kitchen

Article excerpt

Byline: gary BAINBRIDGE

IHAVE become slightly obsessed with the Barefoot Contessa and I am not sure what to do about it. Perhaps by writing down my deepseated feelings it will help me to move on with my life.

I do not know if you are familiar with the Barefoot Contessa's work. You might infer from the name that she is some sort of gutsy gypsy-blood waif from the mean streets of Naples who has acquired dignity and self-respect in the midst of grinding poverty.

But she is actually a woman from the Hamptons, USA, who lives in a big house in grounds about the size of Llandudno, and has a husband who is rich enough to be umm-ing and ahh-ing about buying a yacht. More about him later.

The Barefoot Contessa is one of the stars of the Food Network.

You will have happened upon the Food Network by accident at some time in the past few months when you have been trying to find anything at all to watch after 10.30pm.

It's somewhere between those shopping channels where Paul Coia-level celebrities from the early 90s go to enthuse about lemon squeezers before they die, and CBeebies.

The Food Network usually features a shouty man with bleached hair eating a cheeseburger with bits of chilli con carne and maple syrup dripping off it and saying, "Man, that umami flavor is off the scale." I have written "flavor" that way because he is an American.

But a couple of times a day, the channel is given over to the more sedate Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

You might think that Ina Garten is nothing more than an anagram of Argentina, but you would be wrong.

Garten is the American equivalent of Delia Smith.

Martha Stewart used to be the American equivalent of Delia Smith, but Delia hasn't been to prison.

It is hard to describe simply what her show is like.

So perhaps the best way to proceed is to take you through what happens in a typical episode.

Garten enters her kitchen - it is roughly the size of your entire downstairs.

This is a woman who never has to worry about where to put down a pan.

She then tells us about how she is planning to make dinner for an "amazing" friend of hers.

Everything is amazing to Ina Garten. …

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