Notice anything different about the Food Network lately?

You don’t hear about it much in the popular press, but there’s been a steady mumbling in food circles the last few months about the changes that have been taking place at the Food Network. Specifically, that it’s gotten a lot less interested in teaching people about food, and much more interested in what some people are calling “food voyerism” or more crassly “food porn”. Which is to say that instead of showing people techniques à la Julia Child, they seem to be increasingly going over to a lot of tight shots of foods, textures and other more sensuous scenery.

The network’s much-ballyhoo’d decision to discontinue programs featuring Mario Batali (with the exception of his occasional appearances on Iron Chef America) are only confirming these facts for a lot of folks, especially when his, er “release” seems to be coinciding with the introduction of a new up-and-comer at the network, one Ingrid Hoffman, a sort of Latina version of Rachel Ray whose show Simply Delicioso just recently started airing. Whether this is another step in the network’s purported “lookism” is hard to say.

I will ask you to do this though: compare this Food Network photo of Mario Batali to the previous one of Ingrid Hoffman, as well as these of Giada De Laurentiis, Nigella Lawson, and Rachel Ray. Notice anything? Exactly. All these women are engaged in food preparation and not one of them is wearing a hairnet. At least Chef Batali has the decency to pull his long locks back into a pony tail, which is the very least the New York State Health Department demands.

I tell you, I don’t know what’s become of the Food Network these last few years, but their laissez-faire attitude toward even basic sanitation and hygiene has me fuming.

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