Thursday, July 06, 2006
I'd Like to Punch Sandra Lee in the Face
I am full of love for the Food Network. I started watching it in its infancy many years ago when it was only viewed by stupid geeks. Of course this means that I too am a stupid geek, but I've known that for years and have come to terms with it quite nicely.

Anyway, I learned to cook by observing my mother, if by "cook" you mean boil water and open cans. It was quite common for her to cook a pound of pasta, open a couple cans of tomatoes, mix the two on the stove, and call it dinner. For extra variety we might have some bread and butter, or maybe some salt.

Once I grew up and had to do my own grocery shopping, I became painfully aware of how lame my culinary life had been. I'd admire shelves of exotic ingredients and listen to people discuss chicken stuffed with prosciutto and whether it would be better grilled or broiled, all while I shuffled along the grocery aisles looking for discounted cans of Chef Boyardee. I wanted to be one of Those People who could cook with ingredients that didn't require a can opener. So when I encountered the Food Network, I knew it was my express ticket to Gourmet Town.

My favorite of the Food Network people is Ina Garten, aka Barefoot Contessa. Not only are her recipes superfantastic, but when I watch her show I can fantasize about living a glorious life in The Hamptons surrounded by a posse of gay men who delight in telling me how fabulous I am while they organize jaunty flower arrangements. Unfortunately, for every Ina Garten there's a wanker like Bobby Flay, and don't even get me started on him. But the most offensive of all is Sandra "Semi-Homemade" Lee, who is in a ridiculous, inept league of her own.

I remember watching with slack-jawed horror as Sandy prepared an "Indian dinner" using Uncle Ben's rice, jarred gravy, and half a seasoning packet. Now don't get me wrong. When you're as lazy as I am you appreciate a good shortcut in the kitchen. But combining powdered sloppy joe mix and a can of condensed soup to make gazpacho is not a method of cooking that should be encouraged. We may do it from time to time, but we do it behind closed doors so that we can keep our shame there. Of course Sandy likes to tell everyone that "they can take the credit without doing any of the work!" by using store-bought ingredients, but when you make chili using jarred spaghetti sauce and a package of taco seasoning the only thing you're going to be taking is the blame for a hideous meal. And this critique is coming from a woman who grew up eating macaroni and tomatoes.

I used to watch Sandra Lee's show for the sheer trainwreck factor, but eventually the morbid curiosity wasn't enough to keep me coming back for more punishment. A few months ago, however, I was cruising through the channels when I saw that Sandy was going to make a Kwanzaa Celebration Cake. I'm always up for a little enlightenment, and since I am descended from a long line of lily-white crackers, Kwanzaa is something I know very little about. If there was a traditional cake, I wanted to know about it. Sure, it would be the crapped-up, bastardized, Sandra Lee version, but I'd still pick up a little bit of cultural knowledge. I settled in for some Semi-Homemade insight into African customs.

Sandy started off with store-bought angel food cake. While that didn't strike me as inherently ethnic, I stuck with her. After slathering the whole cake with canned frosting (but it had cocoa added to it to get rid of that packaged taste -- thanks Sandy!) she proceeded to dump a can of apple pie filling in the center. To top the whole thing off, she sprinkled the top of the cake with roasted pumpkin seeds, popcorn, and corn nuts. Corn nuts, people. Bitch is crazy. She proudly finished the monstrosity off by inserting some festive Kwanzaa candles, but since you can't polish a turd that was just a waste of some perfectly good candles.

I still don't know much about Kwanzaa, but I'm betting twenty bucks that no one in or from Africa eats that garbage. And I hope the proud African people rise up and give Sandy the beatdown she so richly deserves. Afterwards they can come over to my house, where there will be macaroni and tomatoes for everyone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled accross your blog on accident, but I gotta say you're spot on with Sandy Lee.

Her neice "Miss Stephanie" is a bitch, too.

Blogger Kristina said...

Heh. "Miss Stephanie." I love the shot in the opening credits where Sandra and "Miss Stephanie" are eating cotton candy together. Every time I see it I wonder who the hell has a cotton candy machine in their house. But then I remember it's Sandra Lee, who probably uses the stuff as a bed for her snazzy semi-homemade appetizers.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Blogger Donny B said...

Oh my God. "When I watch her show I can fantasize about living a glorious life in The Hamptons surrounded by a posse of gay men who delight in telling me how fabulous I am while they organize jaunty flower arrangements" is the best, funniest summary of Ina's show I've seen. I'm adding you to my blogroll based on that line alone.

Blogger Coco said...

Genius post. I saw that very episode. Someone needs to enroll that cuisine sadist in a "Tasteful 101" class.

Or maybe she should just be thrown in a cage with Martha Stewart. Now that would be a great fight!

Anonymous laura said...

Oh my gosh, this was a great read. I watch her just for laughs as well. I often wonder if she does have a drinking problem. Not one show without "coctail time", and she seems to really perk up then. Notice how her voice goes way up at the end of a sentence? And her "Can I tell you something, or I want you to ...." I like Ina, Paula Deen, Rachael Ray and Giada.

Blogger Heather said...

Fantastic! I don't have cable, but I was completely sucked in by the Foodnetwork after the birth of my son. Sandra's show did strike me as qutie the trainwreck.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate the way Sandra wears the most inappropriate clothes for cooking. She's always wearing shirts with huge, extra long sleeves. That and her prominently displayed implants are so distracting. But then again, maybe that is a good thing to quote Martha.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so funny and so true.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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