Author Archives: mogellagnawson

About mogellagnawson

Mogella refuses to measure quantities, calories, weights, measures, wordcount or how much wine she's just had.

Ze Taste, c’est ….setting a new and fabulous benchmark for melodrama in reality cooking shows

Many reality cooking shows, such as Masterchef or the Great British Bake Off, attempt to insert a melodramatic, tense element by playing spiky music, leaving implausibly long gaps before judging announcements and having presenters hover around the contestants bellowing ‘ARE YOU STRESSED? ARE YOU A BIT STRESSED? DON’T BE STRESSED!’

And I’m not saying that The Taste doesn’t do this because it totally does. However, it gains the edge because it barely has to. Instead, it has Ludo Lefebvre:
I am British, the contestants on this season are British. We have been schooled, over decades, not to react to things with anything more than polite alarm (‘gosh, how awful’ may be employed in the case of natural disaster) let alone anything that could be misconstrued as melodrama.

I want The Taste’s Ludo Lefebvre to follow me around, reacting to things for me. Anyone who saw him in episode 4, screaming at slightly incorrectly portioned beetroot juice in the way one might after having discovered a severed head in one’s desk drawer, or jumping up and down in a kitchen in episode one, shouting ‘PUTAIN’ will know that this is a not so much a man (although at the same time, indisputably a rather glorious man) as a one-person arsenal of all of Tumblr’s reaction .gifs.

He is the drama that you need in the show- Nigella (our lady, our goddess and let this never be seen as criticism) is radiant in dresses that I would probably need to hand over my annual wage just to touch and it would be worth every penny, her slow-mo eyelash sweeps are spectacular, I have never felt more assured that my decision to become her by the time I’m forty is a sound one. And Anthony Bourdain is the cantankerous old friend who is never not fun to be around. The person you put up with dragging you to a ridiculous grill joint because they’re also going to get your meal for free and then you will go and drink bourbon with rock stars.

But they cannot be a genre of television, they can just be on it. Ludo is life and fire, death and slightly overcooked clams, he would set fire to ze world because he urgently needed to smoke some aubergines, he would kill a man just to watch him die if that man was so stupid as to overcook a steak, he would make love to you on a bed of brioche. There is a structural problem with The Taste (which is to say, being the best cooker of small-things-on-spoons does not necessarily make you the best cook) but this is all forgiven in the face of such glorious, blissful subversion of the melodramatic reality cooking competition by literally sourcing the most dramatic person on this earth.

(I urgently want to be on the next season, just so Ludo can shout at me, at least once.)

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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Ludo Lefebvre, The Taste


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An article in which someone makes a startlingly uneducated case for Italians being startlingly uneducated about what food does or doesn’t contain piggies

The local diet is about as Mediterranean as chicken tikka masala. There is mortadella, a sausage known elsewhere as Bologna, the forefather of American baloney.

Then there is Bologna’s world famous ragu, the pasta sauce known in the UK as bolognese. This is a city where meat rules supreme.

Surely this is a pure distillation of trolling? From the idea that Mediterranean food is all olives and feta (or whatever it is they think) to the concept that somehow the original Italian sausage that led to the US perversion is somehow non-Italian, to the so-baffling-as-to-be-actually-surreal attempt to portray ‘ragu’ as somehow more British than Italian.

Weird. Weird and troubling. But wait, some analysis of farming!

There is cotechino – a huge sausage they boil and serve with lentils on New Year’s Eve. Then there is zampone – similar but stuffed into a pig’s trotter.

It is a speciality of Castelnuovo Rangone – a little town near Modena which once had more pigs than people.

Yes, that is how farms work. If you have more people than pigs then your farming has gone wrong.

I have no issue with her not eating meat but being totally wrong about everything is another thing entirely.


Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Oh god, what the fvck am I doing with my life?

…said Marco Pierre White, in the car on the way to Kitchen Wars.

Kitchen Wars is a format that should work. Sort of. Bastardly chef goes around the country selecting chefs for an X Factor-type showdown. Except there’s already been a kitchen X Factor, it was that thing to find the great British dish or something a few years ago and after the endless rolling Masterchef regimen and the soaring, triumphant wonderfulness of the Great British Menu what it was decided we needed in the schedule was something slightly like that but with no cooking depicted and an overarching air of sexism.

“She already knows what I think of women who talk too much” begins Marco, as the Kitchen Wars truck sets down in Liverpool. Good, well, that’s an excellent start to that coveted prize of ‘worst host on a cookery related programme.’ Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Channel 5, Marco Pierre White


Run, Pig, Run

Keeping with Fanny’s rock theme, I decided that as I have at least ten other things I ought to be doing, it was time to urgently seek out the episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservation where he makes pulled pork with Josh Homme, queen of the desert.

Groans all round of course; Josh Homme is, for the disinterested, the man responsible for such audio greatness as Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal and more generally the Desert Sessions, living as he does on a ranch of grown children in the middle of the Californian desert. Anthony Bourdain writes, travels, eats and smashes guitars. An ideal combination that (I thought) set Twitter alight last year when rock met pork in an instructional video.

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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


Gluttony in the sidecar

Cooking for one, as the last few years have taught me, is not a great deal of fun. For starters it’s nearly impossible to cook the right portion if you require, say, ‘some aubergine’ and some things, like roasted butternut squash or any large cuts of meat, aren’t really scaleable. Of course it’s perfectly possible to eat a lovely, nutritious and varied diet for one and there are some advantages (never having to hold back on the chilli, being able to eat burger sauce on toast for tea if you really want) but when I was cooking for just myself, an indulgence felt more like a guilty binge than a luscious meal.

Cookery shows have clocked this- the presence of either a pseudo (or literal) restuarant setup on chef shows or the implication that there’s a family or friends ready to drop by and eat everything on cook shows, coupled with semi- magazine programs like Saturday Kitchen and the inevitable interaction between chef and audience (Nigella is cooking for you) gives a sense of performance to the creation that mitigates the gluttonous aspect.

But what if, like me, you seek the gluttonous aspect? I don’t watch cookery shows as a technical manual or as a form of self-flagellation that my dresses are not nearly so swishy and my hair not nearly so neat as yr latest ladycook magazine special, I watch them because I want to see some pleasant things to put in my mouth. I’m an average-to-decent cook and not all that bothered about being let in on the fannydangly secrets of Jamie Oliver’s fish pie but (especially as my partner isn’t all that interested in food) I am certainly looking for other openly drooling chums. Read the rest of this entry »


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