Canary Review: FOOD

FOOD: What Goes In Your Basket?

Channel 4, Wednesdays 8pm

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I like food (ok, that’s a bit of an understatement), I like TV (yeah, that too) and I like Jay Rayner, so I was looking forward to the new Channel 4 series FOOD. The blurb for the show promises to tell viewers “everything they need to know about the food they buy in their local supermarket and where it comes from”.

Presented by the aforementioned Jay Rayner, with Anna Richardson and Ravinder Bhogal, it’s a magazine show that looks to change the way we eat. Filmed in a farm building somewhere in Wiltshire, it’s a bit like Top Gear in that the audience of ‘foodies’ (their word not mine) stand around while Jay and Ravinder do their bit. I don’t understand why Anna Richardson isn’t in the studio with them – if they’re going down the Top Gear route then surely the relationship between the 3 presenters is key? Plus it felt a bit disjointed switching from the sections in the barn to her reports, which will mostly involve a delightful look at how long it takes food to rot – “How bold can I be with mould?” . Because of course what you want when you’re eating your dinner is shots of maggotty meat. This week she’ll be looking at what happens when dairy products go off….. I’ve cleverly timed this post so it’ll be too late for you to tune in for that – you can thank me later.

I felt that a lot of the information given in the show was stuff that the target audience would already know, from watching other programmes like Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s, or from reading the excellent Observer Food Monthly. Much of it was crashingly obvious – Waitrose is the most expensive supermarket, chicken can kill you if you don’t store it properly. Well, duh! The one useful fact I learnt is that there is more sugar in a glass of apple juice than in a can of cola (see, fruit is BAD FOR YOU). It irritated me that during Ravinder’s one recipe segment she wasn’t given the opportunity to talk us through it, instead Anna gave the instructions in a voiceover accompanied by distracting music.

What changes would I like to see? I’d keep the studio audience interaction, but move it from the barn – what’s right for a lamborghini isn’t right for lamb chops (sorry). Anna Richardson would have to go – she annunciates Every Word Like This and it’s teeth grindingly annoying. I’d have more food porn and less mould. Ultimately, I was disappointed – I’ll probably watch it if I’m in, mainly because I find Jay Rayner an engaging host, but I’m not going to press the record button for it. It just didn’t make me hungry.

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4 thoughts on “Canary Review: FOOD

  1. Jay Rayner is one of my guilty crushes, so I was planning to watch this on catch-up. Not sure I’ll bother now. (Quite liking the idea of a lamb borghini though. Sounds tangy!)

  2. You have said exactly what I thought whilst watching it! (and I also mainly watched because of Jay R). All seemed to be ‘headlines’ without any analysis – of course we know Waitrose is more expensive, but the quality is better, which they didn’t mention. Also when there is so much food waste because people worry about sell by dates, it seems scaremongering as well as pointless to show how food rots.
    The only good thing is that Anna did seem to have disappeared this week.

    • Yes, that’s a great point about food waste – especially as a lot of the show was concerned about sustainability. I think that it probably would have been quite an interesting show if it had been half an hour, but it felt stretched over 60 minutes.

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