When I first saw the advert for Jamie Oliver’s new American TV series I was full of excitement. “Estupendo!” I cried to myself in a mock Mexican accent. Actually, this isn’t strictly true. My actual first thought was crikey, Jamie’s chubbed up a bit. Indeed, I even mused to myself that Jamie was actually a new camp member in the stonking new ITV program, “Fat Teens In Love” (sorry to digress but please watch this on i-player, there’s only one episode and the quality is equal to the sensitivity of the title…). But then I considered that perhaps he was a little festively plump due to all the delicious tidbits he had been sampling in the US of A, the tasty and heavenly morsels he had discovered and would obviously soon be sharing with me, his most devoted fan – huzzah!
I was genuinely looking forward to this. Jamie’s PR team had done the trick and come Tuesday night the anticipation was killing me. I shut my loud and annoying Siamese cat in the airing cupboard (yes, I do do that, she likes it!). I managed to prise my Dad’s claw like grip from the remote and get him to listen to the cricket in his room by rustling a large bag of Doritos all the way up the stairs. I asked my brother to prepare me one of his legendary “Scooby snacks”, a kind of “this is going to be such a monumentally terrific program that I’m going to want to celebrate with a ball of melted cheese the size of a babies head” type snack. Everything was ready. And then it came….
Jamie’s America was, in fact, more than a bit pants. Normally, I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver. I admire his honesty. Whilst various C list celebs swear blind that they’d never shop anywhere other than Morrisons, and that they really are passionate about their new range of heat proof dishes, Jamie has always admitted that actually, he just wouldn’t mind the extra dosh. His campaigns to protect little chickens and dinner ladies, and abundance of genuine enthusiasm, have ensured that The Naked Chef will always have a special place in my heart. Sadly, “Jamie’s America” won’t be joining them. For starters (get it?!), there was very little actual food on show. The majority of the time Jamie was chillin’ with a gun toting posse of Mexicans, most of whom looked like Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. In between heart wrenching stories about murdered uncles etc. Jamie would try and cram in the odd recipe, but it didn’t really work. “These Mexicans are living in absolute poverty” Jamie would begin, tears already streaming down my hormonal face and ruining my 10,000 calorie snackette below, “but they do make a mean salad” Jamie would suddenly add and start trying to rustle something up in da hood with a speed and lack of speech which would suggest he was about to be shot at. It was a bit like watching one of those RSPCA adverts with a dog in the rain, with Delia Smith trying to knock up a mean trifle in the background, all a bit bizarre. The food also didn’t look that good. At all. The ‘mole’ (pronounced mole-ay or mole-eh or something like that…) which was thrust in front of the camera at various intervals looked uncannily like something fished out of a Mexican sewer. If you eat with your eyes then I certainly wouldn’t be chowing down on that, and in any case I was now far too depressed to start thinking about pre-party nibbles while those on screen talked about their partners in jail for life. This was all washed down with a generous glug of Jamie’s “I’m a real Essex boy wotcha mate I’m from the hood too ya know” which grew quite tiresome. Jamie’s parents are from Clavering in Essex which is near me. It is one of the prettiest little market towns, the kind with old ladies with plastic hair caps and tartan shopping trollies. He’s just as gangsta as I am. Nuff said.
I feel bad for not liking it because I’m aware that I sound like a kind of Radio Times Marie-Antoinette, striving to keep suffering riff raff off my lovely safe middle-class telly, but it’s not that at all. Cooking just didn’t really seem to have any place in what could have been quite an interesting documentary. Whilst Jamie tried to convince us of his honkies back in the UK, a bunch of surly Mexicans looked on, clearly not the sunny, photogenic, speedy gonzales types that the production company had aimed for, looking less than happy that puppy face Oliver was trying to mussel in on their crew and nicking all their precious mole. So sadly it’s back on the nachos for now, a tiny bit frightened that Jamie’s vast support team are going to come and get me and ask me to retract this. Ah well, you’ve all got my back right? Safe.