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Location: Upstate, New York, United States

Friday, May 06, 2005

Iron Chef Jacobin

I'm back from my recent excursion.

Has anyone seen Iron Chef America? A complete waste of time. The original Japanese show provided me with at least a solid year of fascination, but the remake is shoddy and foolish.

The most irritating thing about it is Bobby Flay. The guy's accent just grates on me. And, when he was on the one-shot special against Iron Chef Japanese Morimoto, he stood on his cooking station and shot his arms upward in a display of uncultured American bravado. Morimoto rightly condemned the action.

He also came to my home town for his series that showcases local cuisine around America. Having sampled everything he had on the episode, I know first-hand that his opinions were based on the hipness of the establishment and not the quality of the food. It seems as if Flay just asked the local potentates which businesses they wanted to get free advertising, and he followed their wishes.

It's too bad to see Alton Brown wasting his time with this one, although I suppose everone has to eat.

But the glaring deficit is the lack of martial culture in the U.S. It's not hard to imagine a Japanese Warrior Chef competing for the honor of his clan and subordinates. American restauranteurs are much more likely to vie for the favor of mass-market yobs or effete NYC dandies.

Aesthetically, the show can't be pulled of in a republic. A monarchy like Japan has all the needed pomp and circumstance to put the outlandish scenario somewhere in the realm of believability.

The lack of a landed nobility makes the idea of a eccentric tycoon who establishes a quasi-gladitorial cooking arena foolish. Or rather, that self-respecting chefs would compete in such a person's contests.

The U.S. just doesn't have that kind of taste for masculine drama. My countrymen will take the WWE (nee WWF) seriously, or American Gladiators, but it has to involve pure physical acumen for most of us to consider it a manly contest.

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