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Alice Waters on public tv


Suzanne F
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what a nice piece! i was not around during the the "waters era" (unless we are still in this era...)but the topic still fascinates me. i was especially impressed with ms. waters' commitment to educating youth about where their food comes from. thanks for the heads up about it!

"Things go better with cake." -Marcel Desaulniers

timoblog!

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That was a wonderful program.

With the news on one side and "reality tv" on the other, it's comforting to know that good TV still is possible.

--mh

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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I was so pleased to hear Alice say that peaches are her favorite fruit because they are mine as well. That peach galette had me drooling. As the chef was slicing those fabulous peaches, I wanted to jump right into the set and grab some. Now that, to me, is reality t.v.! :biggrin:

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I was very inspired when I was done watching this program. But then reality settled in as I thought more about it...

Alice Waters lives in an ideal world that most of us can only dream about. She has an army of dedicated farmers who cater to her wishes ... if the raspberry picked this morning isn't on the dinner plate tonight, it will be turned into a sauce tomorrow ...

How does that help me, who can't even get to a farmer's market this early in the season, and even if I could, it'd be a once-a-week sort of deal at best. My other alternatives would be grocery store outlets -- at best, Whole Foods and at worst, Shopper's Food Warehouse. Who knows how long it took to get from the field to the market to my table?

I realize she said, again and again, that it took her 30 years to get to the heavenly perch she rests on now, but how can any of us even dream of attaining such a state of food nirvana?

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Dave, but at least there are farmers' markets and there are stores like Whole Foods -- 30 years ago in New York tomatoes, even in season, still came 3 to a cardboard container, wrapped in plastic, pink and tasteless.

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For those who missed it or only got part of it: check the website of your local station. It should have program information and schedules, so you can see when the show will be repeated. I plan to watch it this Sunday afternoon. (Didn't see it at all last night :sad: )

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For those who missed it or only got part of it: check the website of your local station.  It should have program information and schedules, so you can see when the show will be repeated.  I plan to watch it this Sunday afternoon.  (Didn't see it at all last night  :sad: )

We are not allowed to see it in Seattle because we have the lousiest PBS stations in the land.

My husband is in SF, CA and got to watch it, though. He said it was "fawning." I still would have liked to see it.

"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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Where was the substance? We kept hearing from others, notibly Ruth Reichl, about Alice's passion and most of what I heard from AW herself was an ode to peaches and how she loves tiny tomatoes with the green attached. I think this was an enormous missed opportunity, which portrayed a serious issue - the importance of eating and buying responsibly - like a feather.

I wanted to hear from Alice WHY it's important to have relationships with producers; to hear an answer to Dave Faris' question about how people outside of the food-wonderland-that-is-California can do that; how the influence of the buying public can be a force for good; how a chef or home cook might benefit from relations with producers.

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I saw only part of the show because I had to go out, but I also felt a bit disappointed. It was sort of a "let us now praise famous men" kind of thing, which was interesting, certainly, but incomplete. I thought maybe I had just missed the rest because I didn't watch the whole thing, but apparently not. (BTW -- pre-eGullet I would have said, who's Alice Waters? See, I'm learnin')

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I though it was very well done, but definantly fawning.

Sorry, but why shouldn't it be fawning? The woman started a food revolution in this country.

Toby, great point.

but how can any of us even dream of attaining such a state of food nirvana?

Plant a garden? Buy organically? Cook what's in season?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I finally watched it yesterday afternoon. I found it rather boring -- all those talking heads! Maybe 15 minutes of content, repeated over and over again. And nothing about her or her work that I didn't already know. An hour wasted.

I was really hoping that it would include what I saw in real life, and described in this post. But no. The mystery continues.

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Hre's why it shouldn't be fawning:

Alice Waters started a food revolution amoung rich people in this country. Whenever she's tried to influence any other group, she hasn't made any impact. The ill-starred Oakland food program is a good example.

While I don't expect PBS American Masters to be a hachet job, I think that proving balance and some explanations might be a good plan. Her relationships with growers is a good thing--but while France provides heavy government subsidies to small famers, in this country Agribusiness gets the breaks and many family farms go under. Never mind that most family farmers are sneered at by the PBS/Chez Panisse crowd (See Bob Kerry's ad for the New School that ran in an Omaha high school paper.)

The snob factor was very high with this show. I loathe that same snobbism in the food community.

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Ann Godoff just acquired, for her new imprint at Penguin, a biography of Alice Waters. The author (sorry, can't remember his name) has "unique" access to her family and friends. Hopefully it will be interesting. And I don't mean hopefully as in the subject matter, but rather the book itself. I'm too often disappointed by great subjects that are made into poor books (or movies for that matter).

Edited by swissmiss (log)

Anne E. McBride

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MatthewB and ideefixe: I disagree with both of you;

MatthewB: that wasn't venom so much as ignorance.

ideefixe: the "food revolution" that Alice Waters started has had repercussions well beyond "the rich people in this country." I don't know how long you've been shopping in supermarkets, but the range of fresh produce available now is many, many times greater than it was when she started. (I shop at a Pathmark on the edge of Chinatown/Little Italy/the Lower East Side -- where the privileged like me are far outnumbered.) While I can't point to a clear cause-and-effect here, I do believe that by her getting people interested in food, she helped that happen. To say that because one experiment failed, she hasn't had any influence, is disengenuous.

Yes, agribusiness is supported in the USA to a disgusting degree; but how does that bear on the issue? And what are YOU doing to change that? You are right to be angry, but your anger is misdirected.

What proof do you have for your statement that "most family farmers are sneered at by the PBS/Chez Panisse crowd" -- and, by the way, who exactly makes up that WHOLE crowd? It sounds to me as though you might be practicing a kind of reverse snobbism.

Alice Waters does not need me to defend her; many others are happy to do that. But if you are going to denigrate anyone, you'd better present a lot more facts yourself.

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MatthewB and ideefixe: I disagree with both of you;

MatthewB: that wasn't venom so much as ignorance.

ideefixe: the "food revolution" that Alice Waters started has had repercussions well beyond "the rich people in this country."  I don't know how long you've been shopping in supermarkets, but the range of fresh produce available now is many, many times greater than it was when she started. (I shop at a Pathmark on the edge of Chinatown/Little Italy/the Lower East Side -- where the privileged like me are far outnumbered.)  While I can't point to a clear cause-and-effect here, I do believe that by her getting people interested in food, she helped that happen.  To say that because one experiment failed, she hasn't had any influence, is disengenuous.

Yes, agribusiness is supported in the USA to a disgusting degree; but how does that bear on the issue?  And what are YOU doing to change that?  You are right to be angry, but your anger is misdirected. 

What proof do you have for your statement that "most family farmers are sneered at by the PBS/Chez Panisse crowd" -- and, by the way, who exactly makes up that WHOLE crowd?  It sounds to me as though you might be practicing a kind of reverse snobbism.

Alice Waters does not need me to defend her; many others are happy to do that.  But if you are going to denigrate anyone, you'd better present a lot more facts yourself.

Brava, Suzanne!! In no way could I have expressed myself as eloquently as you; ditto to all you said.

And by the way, ideefixe, I have dined at Chez Panisse and have been known to tune in to PBS now and again. I purchase my eggs, fruit, and vegetables almost exclusively at local farmers' markets; there, I interact directly with (and gladly hand my money to) the family farmers who provide us with their bounty. For me, that privilege is indeed a mitzvah . . .

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I got to thinking some more about what I wrote earlier in this thread. And I decided I was being unfair to Alice. While, true, she's very very lucky to live in one of the richest parts of the world in terms of produce and actual wealth, that's no reason for me to be snipey and jealous. I just need to move out there... on a recent trip to California, I was treated to the Farmer's Market in Monterey, and it made anything similar I've seen here on the east coast look like a joke.

And as for rarified living, well, heck. Martha Stewart is guilty of the same thing. At least Alice isn't as over-exposed as Martha, and retains some integrity. And even if it was a PBS puff-piece and fawning over a successful hippy-chick, I got the feeling Alice is honest, deep-down.

Being jealous of her is just bad form on my part.

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I will agree with Dave that it is sooo much easier to get and offer amazingly fresh produce etc. from farmer's markets in California.  And a swillion times cheaper too.

Really, I do feel blessed, in addition to knowing how very lucky I am, to live here on California's central coast. Locally, we have several year-round farmers' markets available to us, with several more setting up "in season."

Dave, the Monterey market you visited is one of our area's very best. Awesome place.

And your willingness to admit a certain "bad form" w.r.t. your earlier thread makes you a true gentleman in my book. :blush:

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