Janet alerted me to Jamie Oliver; DSTB followed up with what is apparently a new show on ABC. It starts next Friday, but the pilot was shown last night; fortunately it's available both at the show site and Hulu, so I was able to watch it. Jamie's attempt to get the people of Huntington, West Virginia to take a healthier approach to eating has the faults of American commercial television (just as does Who Do You Think You Are?), but it's not bad and (so far) is not as over the top as what I've seen of his British shows. If his personality is a little too dramatic for my taste, there's no doubting the sincerity of his preaching and his mission. His gospel is good, fresh food, and in this episode he takes on school lunches.
[Excuse me, school meals. The only meal these children eat at home is dinner. In Oliver's unfeigned horror at the meals served at our public schools, he misses what strikes me as the more important point: Why are all these children eating school food? Why aren't they bringing lunches from home, and why, for Pete's sake, don't they eat breakfast before going to school? If the schools are going to offer food, certainly it should be healthy food, but where are the parents? There's absolutely no need to subject one's children to American public school food, good or bad. The school lunch (and now breakfast) program does serve a useful purpose, making sure children whose parents can't provide meals for them aren't trying to learn on empty stomachs. That's a good thing. But somehow the whole system got skewed; I know that the goal of the school lunch program at our kids' school was to have everyone participate. (We didn't.) I saw not one lunchbox in the show. I hope that while he teaches the adults how easy it is to put together healthy meals, he also teaches the kids how easy it is to make their own healthy lunches. But that's another issue; I know I'm taking on a Great American Icon by dissing the school lunch program.]
My favorite character in the show was one of the school lunch ladies, appropriately named Alice. She wasn't the one in charge, but as Oliver said, "It's obvious that the real boss is Alice," and "Alice is a force to be reckoned with." There are some delightfully obvious similarities—but the real Boss, Alice Davis Porter Wightman, would have agreed with Jamie about the food.
One place I disagree with him is his incomprehensible aversion to pizza for breakfast. Granted, the pizza the children were being served didn't look good for any meal, but I'll stake my recent breakfast pizza against anyone's milk-and-cereal or bacon-and-eggs: Homemade crust; homemade "tomato sauce" which was not only tomato but a whole bunch of other veggies cooked so it still looked and tasted like tomato sauce (only better); green, red, and hot peppers; mushrooms; onions; garlic; and spinach. Yes, it also had cheese and, yes pepperoni—but so what? The balance was great...and so was the pizza. Far more veggies than most American breakfasts—or British either, I'll bet.As long as I can watch it on my computer, with a pause button and while doing other things, I think I'll enjoy checking out Jamie Oliver's progress in upcoming episodes.