KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: The River Cottage Series, An Obsession
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Monday, February 05, 2007
The River Cottage Series, An Obsession
I'm new to TV watching. But I have taken to it like a parched and thirsty fish. In the last few years it has saved me from my head, often a bad neighborhood to inhabit alone. Armed with an inherited television set equipped with an internal VCR and DVD player, this brain drug of a machine has kept me company a lot in the last few years. To this end I have joined other Americans in following a number of series' and caught up on movies that have defined my modern cultural generation.

For years I have been repeating this sentence, "Oh no, I didn't see that, I haven't heard of that, I wasn't aware of that, because I have been working."

My mother said years ago I could have made the best jury member on the OJ Simpson case, because I knew absolutely nothing about it.

A few months ago I was given an innocuous little shiny disk labeled, Escape To River Cottage, and only remember the odd tidbit about what it could be about. Good thing I did not start watching it until just the other night. A person has to have a life which includes leaving the house, making supper, taking the legs out for a stretch, and interacting with other live human beings.

If you like to eat, are interested in where your food comes, have ever entertained the idea of forsaking city living and planting a garden from which you will plan meals around, enjoy the feeling your face gets when an unplanned smile emerges, like a dash of English humor, and think a show involving cooking and eating could be something other than staged, perfect, indoors, and inane to the point of "lowest common denominator" script writing, you must get ahold of any part of these series now and watch it with someone you like!

The liner notes from TV.com:

"Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal has decided to quit the bustle of London and take on the life of a smallholder at River Cottage, a former gamekeeper's cottage in Dorset. The aim is self-sufficiency; to grow his own vegetables and raise his own animals for food."

It is addictive in the best sense of the word!

The word on the street is that I have only just begun. A quick perusement on the www comes up with a fantastic interview with Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstal himself. Then there's the River Cottage website, complete with appropriate page links and a whole page devoted to those behind the delicious scenes. Channel 4 talks up their baby as well, and then there's the dangerous list of all the titles.

It's still winter, even in the Bay Area, go ahead, get a few disks and hole up for the weekend. But be sure to have some farmers' market snacks around. You may not be hungry for bridge mix or chips and salsa after watching an episode end with recently culled and butchered pidgeon in B'steeya, cold pike en gelee, or Hugh's first hen egg whipped up into a quick courgette souffle.

If you're one of those new fans for whom doing things halfway is not an option, you may choose to cook up some of this fellow's food right away by heading over to our own local British Gourmand, Sam, of Becks and Posh, as she has cooked up one of Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstal's recipes, from his most recent River Cottage Meat Book.

Feel free to come back to Bay Area Bites and let me know if I have steered you right!

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