Friday, December 20, 2013

In defense of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"

(OPENING PARENTHETICAL: I just checked Food Network's site and yep, it's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," no Oxford comma, TYVM.)

At the risk of this blog turning into a TV-only affair, let me say a few things about "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," which airs virtually nonstop on Food Network.  I know that Guy Fieri is an easy target; I've made fun of him myself.  How could you not?  The hair, the backwards sunglasses, the dog named "Rockstar."  It's all too easy.

BUT let me make the audacious claim that DD&D is actually a pretty good show.  Here's the basic format: Guy goes to one of the aforementioned types of places, talks to the clientele about why they like the place so much, and then gets the owner or operator to show him how to make one or two of the place's signature dishes.  Here's an example, featuring the Tune Inn in DC:


It's not rocket science, but here are the good things about the show:  First, the places he's featuring are all non-chain, usually owner-operated small-time restaurants.  It's good to see those kinds of places getting some love.  I am ancedotally informed that when he featured the Tee Off and the Broken Record here in SF, it helped out both places tremendously.  (Both are pretty good, BTW, and worth a visit.)

Second, for whatever reason, Guy Fieri is really good at describing what he's eating.  Any TV dork can take a bite of something and go "Mmmmm, crunchy," but Guy is uncommonly good at conveying verbally how something tastes.  It doesn't seem like rocket science, but it's surprisingly hard to do!  Here's a (somewhat below-average) sample.  I could find a better one but what am I supposed to do, watch YouTube clips of Guy Fieri all day?  Anyway, Guy's describing the Guinness beef stew at this Irish pub, and he says it's "rich, flavorful, full of depth," that it has "really nice rounded, roasted flavor . . . nice velvety texture from the mushrooms, and the meat just completely dissolves-in-your-mouth tender."  OK, I know, it's not M.F.K. Fisher but M.F.K. Fisher didn't hit three spots per half hour episode.

And third, yes, Guy Fieri is a total dork and can be completely irritating, but the man brings the enthusiasm to every place.  You got to admire that.

Oh, and fourth, for someone who's into food like me, it's pretty interesting to see how these restaurants make their dishes.  In fact, after seeing one segment I actually hunted down the recipe they made and did it up at home.  I can't remember which restaurant or what dish so don't even ask.

That's it.  I'll try and write about non-TV matters soon.  Have a good weekend.

11 comments:

Michael Strickland said...

Great M.F.K. Fisher reference. Now I'll never think of Fieri without mentally referencing The Gastronomical Me.

TK said...

I'd like to think they would have gotten along. Imagine the dinner parties!

Tamagosan said...

Every time I flip past this show, I stop, assuming I'll have plenty of fodder for a How to Cook a Douchebag-style hate-fest. But then I kind of get into the folks running the restaurants. They're real people at real places, and I can stand it for upwards of 10 minutes, which is a lot for me for this style of food. And I guess I appreciate that Mr. Ferry kind of owns who he is. Maybe I like his North Bay ties, but all aboard the D, D-I and D apologist train?

Amanda Guest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda Guest said...

Though I can't stand Guy, I agree that DD&D is actually a good show! He featured my favorite hometown bar and not only was it was a great boost to their business it has encouraged them to innovate with their menu. And it's easy enough to ignore the giant autographed portrait of him on the wall when I go back and visit.

TK said...

Amanda, don't be coy! What bar?

Andrea Prete said...

My mom watches the show. She keeps a piece of paper on the little table next to her TV-watching chair and writes down all the restaurants he goes to that she wants to visit. When she comes to visit she brings the list with her and we have to eat at the places he goes to that are near SF. Free meal on Mom.

Lisa said...

Funny! Got into SF fairly late & the boyfriend was hungry and I wasn't really so we needed pub food somewhere near my house (no easy feat) and I took him to Broken Record and we had their food. Which was good! (I've had it before.)

Then we basically had this exact same conversation! I mentioned how I thought the show had been there, and *shrug* yes, Guy Fieri is guy Fieri. (Originally Guy Ferry, btw.) But that featuring DD&D, the kind of places we like to go, is pretty awesome and he does a generally good job. So hey, psychic brain waves or something.

Unknown said...

I'm glad to hear someone saying this. I agree he's a punchline otherwise, but he's always respectful and gets a lot of interesting info out of them. Also, seeing how restaurant kitchens make things is interesting.

thesoniashow said...

While Guy Fieri is not my favorite, I do love this show. The show is like comfort food to me.

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