TV Dinners



How has food. Tv changed over time. And how has it changed us. All not just us gastropod. That's right. you're listening to gastropod the podcast. That looks at food through the lens of science and history. I'm cynthia graber. And i'm nicola twilley and this episode. We're taking a spin around the dial which sounds medieval but believe us when we say. Tv's used to not have remotes. You had to literally spin odile. Even i barely remember those wild and wonderful days. This episode is supported in part by cabot. Creamery cabot is a co-op of new england and new york dairy farmers who make award winning cheeses with pure rich milk straight from family farms their specialty cheeses include unique flavors like roasted garlic cheddar and their team of cheese graders indirect with every batch to ensure award-winning quality. Go to cabinet. She's dot com to find out where to buy cabot near you there. You'll also find pairings how to videos and delicious comfort food recipes like the best mac and cheese and more the first thing to know about the very earliest food. Tv wasn't actually on tv. It was on the radio almost as soon as a radio came into being in the nineteen twenties in the us food radio came into being. It was a really easy way for programs to be created because they were easy and cheap. They were obvious outlets for advertising for sponsorship for food products and appliances. So that's where we saw food before. Tv was even a twinkle in the eye. Kathleen collins is a librarian and professor at john jay college of criminal justice and she's the author of the book watching what we eat. The evolution of television cooking shows the stars of these very first food shows. Were hardly stars in today's cents. These radio shows were unglamorous. It was all teaching housewives. How to economize and optimize and generally do all their chores. Better one of the not remotely. Glamorous stars was a woman named and sammy who we can only imagine was supposed to be the wife of uncle sam which is kind of disturbing. She wasn't actually a person. It was a program delivered by an arm of the. Usda and the she was not just one person but several different actors around the country. Adopting regional accents similarly a figure. That's much more well known was betty crocker. She actually started on the radio and like aunt. Sammy was played by many different actresses and she was one of the first we. Could i guess call her one of the first cooking teachers in broadcasting And we have some fun you one for. You are cooking lessons. This week is on some new christmas cookies. And besides that with sending seven ethically recipes to order numbers of schools who had indicated that they want the wednesday menu ambassador. I hope you'll be sure to watch for them on. Sammy's show was called housekeepers. Chat and betty crocker's was the slightly more enticing cooking school of the air. That sounds as though it was all about meringues and souffles and all things fluffy which it decidedly was not and then the very first television station came into being in the nineteen twenties though at the time the technology was still super experimental and people did not have. Tv's in their homes yet. Even as late as nineteen fifty only nine percent of american homes had a tv set. Foot made the jump to tv before. Tv even made the jump to people's living rooms so more megan was thirst. Tv shafran her snapple titled Tv show was called suggestions for dishes to be prepared and cooked in fifteen minutes and that demonstrated single ring. Cookery back in hundred thirty six. This is julie smith. She's a food writer. And podcast and the author of a new book called taste and the tv chef and she's british so i will translate for her single ring. Cookery means the kind of thing you can make on just one burner in your bed. Sit which is british for a studio apartment. Thanks for the cross pen translation of my uses as well as my bizarre accident. True also interesting. Megan was doing this. Fifteen minute meal about eighty years. Before jamie oliver's tv show and book of the same title. We have a picture of her filming her show dressed in. What looks like a raincoat on our website. Glamour personified where was i but by the nineteen forties food. Tv show started showing up for real in the us to the shows were cheap to produce and they were sponsored by kitchen and food companies and they were pretty boring. It was a very practical probably rather dry and yet a lot of the airtime was filled with these programs in different markets around the country. These shows obviously targeted at women most. Tv's at the time. Were actually in public places rather than homes especially bars where there weren't a lot of housewives. There was a show actually the first national televised. Tv show was james beard and it started in the mid nineteen forties and despite everything i just said about how most of the tv shows and the radio shows were led by home. Economists james beard was not a home economist. He was a gourmet and he was really all about the food and so it was a little strange to have this show on. Tv in a bar being watched by men james beard was kind of a one off for a long time but still here we go right off the bat you can see a gender divide in food tv women were the ones who were proper and teaching viewers had cook the man a ormond. Just appreciate food for food. Food was a chore for women and a pleasure for men until the only lucas came along. So diani lucas. Like james beard was a bit of an anachronism. She was a cordon bleu trained chef. Who was born in. Britain came from a very artistically oriented family. Do you only had a restaurant and cooking school in new york and she treated the kitchen as her art studio. it was her serious creative outlet. Her recipes were complex and mostly french. And they took a lot of time to make she was also kind of a taskmaster her british accent and her scraped back hair and she did not cut corners. But kathleen says the. Tony did occasionally have a little sparkle in her eye. Like when she told viewers to use as much rama's they liked or needed in their cribs. Suzanne that show was on the evening and prime time and it ran from nineteen forty seven until nineteen fifty-six but she was kind of ahead of her time. I would not be surprised if many of your listeners have never heard of the oni lucas. She just came along at the wrong time for the public. Viewing audience at diani did have a big influence on one particularly important person. Julia child the french chef. I'm doolittle she was a california girl. She was not a spy for the cia before being cooking show guru as many people think she was a research assistant at the oh s the precursor to the cia but she was really one of these happy accidents. She married paul child who had a foreign service assignment. in france. They moved to france and she fell in love with food. And she got herself trained. You know at the core blows school which was really challenging as a woman and she just became. You know a master in nineteen sixty one. Julia published a book with two other. Women called mastering the art of french. Cooking it is eight home and that seven hundred fifty. Two page book provided the kick. That landed julia in front of millions of viewers happen was. Julia was doing the rounds promoting her book and she'd been invited onto a book show hosted by a local professor on w. g. b. h. Which is the boston public. Tv station and she decided she didn't want to just talk with the professor. She wanted to cook. She wanted to teach him how to make a proper french omelette. The professor wasn't a particularly skilled cook in this live tv cooking class but people wrote into the show after it aired. They called julia a hoot and the producer thought. Julia was incredibly well-spoken so gbh gave her her own show. It would eventually become the french chef. The show was a huge hit. It was on national. Tv for three decades and it not only made julia household name but it also kind of launched the modern era of food

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