Food and Drink

Wednesday, September 20, 2000 by

After the wacky antics of Ainsley’s Gourmet Express we enter the realms of a slightly more sedate Food and Drink. On air for more than 15 years it predates the current mantra “cookery is the new rock’n'roll” by some time. However has the presentation succumbed to the trendy gimmicks of its more recent rivals? We check out the freshness of Food and Drink.

Now freed of its original studio confines and shorn of the majority of the old hands, the Food and Drink team currently consists of Anthony Worrall-Thompson, Oz Clarke and Emma Crowhurst. Ostensibly set in what we are supposed to presume is Worrall-Thompson’s house, the programme has a more relaxed style of presentation than ever before. As we watch Worrall-Thompson demonstrate pickling courgettes the camera swoops in at odd angles as though it’s a fly on the wall documentary or some trendy youth programme. It’s not that this style is bad as such, but it is rather distracting and causes us to miss a fair portion of the action in favour of lingering on Worrall-Thompson’s earlobe.

Oz Clarke has been part of of Food and Drink as long as memory serves, and he hasn’t altered his approach at all during that time, thankfully. Less prone to the extraordinary pronouncements of former colleague Jilly Goolden, Clarke has kept his enthusiasm for drinks of all kind grounded by earthy commonsense. As a gentle tasting in the garden progresses, Pam Ferris (“Ma Larkin” to most) pulls out a mystery bottle for a blind tasting test. Clarke acquits himself well, and then proceeds to give us a list of drinks to seek out and try. Here, the show is almost back to the days of Chris Kelly and Michael Barry. Simple and unfussy, yet matured and mellow.

Now its the turn of the new hand Emma Crowhurst, out on location. Here she helps out a woman preparing for a local “Poetry and Pint” evening. This is a straightforward item and not particularly interesting as such, but it serves to underline how much cookery programmes have evolved, as this segment has an outdated and slightly reproachful feel. The ghost of Fanny Craddock lurks somewhere in the background.

The next feature acknowledges the programme’s past. Anton Mosimann, the veteran chef and former potato endorser, journeyed to Sheffield to attempt to cook a family meal on £10 as he did in 1985. At this point the grainy film footage of the meat and fruit markets of the city centre assail us, and here we see the relatively youthful Mosimann wandering around shopping. We then cut to him him trailing around the stalls today and gain some small insight into how life has changed in 15 years. Chicken now costs nearly three times as much – but green peppers are half the price. Mosimann is smooth in front of the camera as he serves up bread and butter pudding. A great piece which we should really have second helpings of in the future.

And onto the last item: Liver and bacon – apparently one of our favourite dishes. Yet again a whiff of Jamie Oliver is evident as Worrall-Thompson weaves and dives in and out of view.

On the whole Food and Drink remains a good solid, hearty programme, fronted by likeable and experienced presenters. It has moved somewhat with the current TV fashions, yet it retains a respect for its venerable past. The style is perhaps Nouveau Cuisine, yet the dish is traditional Meat and Potatoes.


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