We used to occasionally catch a program in the UK called ‘Come Dine with Me’.
It’s an innocent, funny half-hour spent watching people cooking (and generally getting in a bit of a mess). The host invites 4 total strangers into their home to dine. The guests then judge their host, hospitality and of course the food. Over 5 consecutive nights they visit each other’s homes and so on. The game concludes on the last night when the final scores are totalled and the grand winner goes home a £1000 richer!
Each series is complimented by an acidic and sarcastic commentary which is sometimes more amusing than watching the contestants themselves. There are of course the shenanigans that go on between contestants, there are occasions when friendships are formed despite the contest and there are of course, clashes of characters, just to spice things up. In a nutshell a typical, reality show which at least gives the viewers some recipes I suppose!
Looking up some details on line I see that this format of program is now available in 35 countries!!! The names differ a little, from ‘Without a Napkin’ in Slovakia to ‘Spread’ in the Czech Republic! Here in France it’s called ‘Un Diner Presque Parfait’ translated as ‘An Almost Perfect Dinner’.
We have noticed that the French version is a lot more demanding than the British version, the hosts are judged on the Aperitif, the table dressing, and of course the food, which really has to fit into the ‘theme’ given by the host and is seriously frowned upon if the ingredients aren’t local. They rarely if ever sit down to eat much before 9pm and surprisingly they are judged on the ‘animation’ – yes – entertainment which of course has to keep within the confines of the said theme, (which would make most British citizens cringe with embarrassment!)it’s watching these programs that we see how different we really are, even though we are such close neighbours, they are huge cultural differences.
Where am I going with all of this you must ask?
RANT NUMBER 1
it’s the fact that these programs make us all think we are experts!! These programs and the famous TV chefs, who irritate me intensely.
I’m married to a ‘professional cooker’, we had a tiny, little restaurant and trust me, even if he had wanted to be on TV, he simply wouldn’t have had the time. So in my layman’s capacity, I can’t see how these chefs, manage a celebrity lifestyle and yet still give the impression that they are busy in their own kitchens and restaurants. How on earth can ‘ONE’ chef be in charge of a ‘CHAIN’ of restaurants, he can only be in one place at one time, and of course there are film premieres to attend, the television interviews, the personal appearances not to mention inviting the whole of the country into his home, kitchen, garden to meet his wife and adorable little kiddies who will no doubt become the celebrities of the future. I apologise if I sound like a grumpy old woman (which of course I am) but I simply see this as a damn good ‘pension plan’. By all means be a TV chef, but please don’t make out that you still run a busy, working kitchen every Saturday night.
RANT NUMBER 2
This is my next gripe, the fact that we have sites like Trip Advisor, which in essence is a great idea, However, it’s the users that can cause real damage to businesses, especially small local businesses. I have left comments and reviews on Trip Advisor in the past, about restaurants, hotels, campsites etc. that we have visited. If I can’t give an honest, unbiased, professional opinion then I don’t’ bother.
Trip Advisor is not the place to air one’s disappointments – if you have a complaint, go directly to the owner of the establishment. We have friends with a business and I occasionally read what people say in their reviews and it makes me wonder what kind of world we live in. Under the heading of ‘Disastrous Evening’ the following events really spoiled this chaps evening, a dropped fork that wasn’t noticed by a waiter, the wrong fruit juice (heaven forbid), 5 minutes wait for a menu, a waitress that leaned over the customer with a plate, incorrect change for a tenner instead of a twenty … apparently all of the above are reason to go for the kill, to criticize, complain, insult, and slate off the hard work of someone trying to make an honest living. There is a surplus of vitriolic spewing going on. OK so you weren’t happy with your visit but really, was it so bad that you go home, log into your PC and spill it all out for everyone to see? So you got apple juice instead of orange, big deal! Unfortunately as petty as this seems, some people only ever read the headline and make a decision about an establishment based on this.
We had a situation with our little resto, whereby we had generally good reviews, we’re not Michelin starred, so we didn’t expect more, then one week we had a run of the most horrid reviews, we tried to work out who had been working on the specific days, did anyone remember anyone complaining, our best investigative efforts to work out what was wrong drew a blank. The Hubster insisted that it wasn’t worth responding, much to my infuriation. Then one day we noticed that two of our customers had taken it upon themselves to write, in our defence, in response to these terrible accusations One customer stated there was soon to be an opening of a ‘large chain’ of restaurant in our town, and suggested this was some form of sabotage? We’ll never know but those nasty, uncalled for comments are there, on the web, for all to see! We don’t mind as we have now sold and those few comments did little damage, however do think before writing these reviews, they can seriously effect people’s lives.
Wow I feel great now I’ve got that off my chest, thanks for listening!
We’ve eaten out a fair bit since we’ve been here, and guess what,?
You wait to be seated,
you wait for a menu,
you wait for your drinks order,
you wait for your food, which doesn’t always come at the same time …
we couldn’t believe it, after having had a restaurant in the UK trying to make everything come together, for our ever-increasing, perfection-seeking public!
Yet The French, who are renowned for being outspoken and not putting up with anything less than perfect, say nothing! Why? Because they appreciate that things don’t always go to plan, so they sit back and they talk, they laugh and they get on with life.
I’ve just read this out loud to the Hubster and he says I should apply to go on the ‘Grumpy Old Women’ program!! Ha ha! What he doesn’t realise is that writing this down has enabled me to get it out of my head and onto paper and so I have in effect, got rid of it!!