No More Rachael Ray in Iran (And Why That's a Bad Thing)

Banned in Iran.
I have said my fair share of nasty things about Rachael Ray. As a matter of fact, I've taken plenty of shots at all the different celebrity chefs and "food personalities" who litter our airwaves with their blinding smiles, annoying catchphrases, and recipes for green-bean casserole. I have demanded that they be called to account for their dumbing-down of cuisine--for their insistence that a traditional cassoulet can be made with Campbell's Cream of Duck Soup (no, there's not really any such thing)--and that they apologize publicly for the hyperbolic elevation of the mediocre (looking at you, Guy Fieri) crimes against cookery (Sandra Lee) and common decency (Gordon Ramsay, natch).

But one thing I've never said? That any of these shows should be taken off the air. I mean, for one, if they were all suddenly gone, where would I find such an easy goad to my righteous indignation? And two, I'm not about to go out there and Fahrenheit 451 anyone else's idea of entertainment. I catch enough crap about the way I do my job, and if the culture Nazis ever started getting to pick and choose who gets to do what for a buck, I'd be one of the first ones up against the wall, no doubt.

Which is why it's a really good thing that I don't live in Iran.

According to a report by Agence France Presse, the state-run television system in Iran has just banned all foreign cooking shows for fear that they are spreading a Western influence in that country.

No, I'm not kidding. Apparently, our cheeseburgers, corn dogs, and nacho platters (in addition to Giada's puttanesca, Ramsay's kidney pies, and all that sneaky French cuisine) constitute a national security risk, and the deputy head of Iran's state TV recently said, "From now on teaching how to cook non-Iranian dishes is banned."

Because yeah, if we've learned anything from the bloody protests in Egypt, what the people of the Middle East are really hungry for are some of Rachael Ray's NASCAR tater-tot casserole.

According to AFP, "Iran boasts a rich cuisine and cooking shows are very popular, with chefs teaching a variety of Iranian and foreign recipes on daytime television. Italian, Chinese and Indian dishes are also favoured by many Iranians, while officials warn against the increasing consumption of unhealthy fast food."

The good thing is, while the state has absolute control over the local broadcasts and has made it illegal to receive private broadcasts or satellite television, lots of folks in Iran have dishes and can pull down their entertainment from all over the world. So if they really have to have that recipe for "Late Night Bacon" (or just want to see what Paula Deen is up to this week), they can probably still get it. Though I've got to wonder whether Bobby Flay is more or less annoying when translated into Persian.

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