The British Are Baking! The British Are Baking!

bake offEveryone but me seems to be into some manner of cooking show of late. In fact, there is an entire cable channel (called FOOD) that does nothing but air shows that look alike, sound alike, and might even taste alike if you were allowed to sample the wares. Many involve a timer, not to ensure the egg is hard- or soft-boiled, but to see if “chefs” can concoct a 5-star meal from Ring Dings, jicama, blueberry kefir, Andouille sausage, and Trix. As Custer’s righthand man said when the horizon darkened at Little Big Horn: “Good luck with that.”

Now even the British are capitulating, only their show, The Great British Bake Off, appears on Public Broadcasting. You know, to give it that inevitable, Masterpiece Theater aura you expect from the British as revenge for that little matter of The War. My wife is into this show. One Sunday night, she insisted I take a seat (without specifying where) and watch with her. She was looking for a tradition, she said. Her and me. Together in front of the telly.

Here’s the report, one if by pan and two if by see for yourself:

First, the judges. With typical British modesty, they appear to be under the witness protection plan. One is called “Mary Berry” and the other “Paul Hollywood.” Shakespeare would not be pleased. Mary, the good cop, looks to be about 87-years-old, but she’s sweet as… OK, a berry.

Paul is another story (with a bad ending). Greasy kid stuff hair and jeans looking to explode with each new pastry, cake slice, and cupcake “tested.” Still, he manages to insult people nattily enough, giving the nodding viewer a small dollop of pleasure.

If you aren’t put off by the judges, you might be by the presenters. Apparently with clean criminal records, they go by the real-sounding names of Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. Madcap, I guess the director is telling them, but it doesn’t come off. Sue is particularly jarring (maybe the fermentation episode, then?) with her barking seal-style pronouncements.

Tonight is the championship episode (do I have an “Amen!”) for Series #4, but I think we’re a year behind here in the Colonies. This means the Bake Off will come to a ceasefire, at least until a new group of would-be chefs take to England’s green and pleasant land (they have ovens out on King Lear’s moor, for some reason). The good thing about the new competition is it’s already ruined because we all read the headline a few weeks back: “Female Muslim Thoroughly Bakes Islamophobia in the UK!”

I don’t think my wife realizes this, though. Maybe if, sitting down for episode #1 of series #5,  I accidentally on purpose say, “Oh, yeah. I read about this in the Times. The Muslim girl wins, veil and all!”

It wouldn’t be the first thing I ruined. Consider the last Pineapple Upside Down Cake I baked…


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