The people are divided over The Delicious Miss Dahl. Criticism of its lovely host, Sophie Dahl, her show, and the BBC is being served in a merciless manner as is the British way (which can produce the most hilariously cutting jabs but in this case I'm highly sympathetic to the receiver). Foodies are slamming her methods and her recipes and the BBC's decision to focus on an ex-model amateur cook - she doesn't claim to be a skilled cook and in this week's episode even admits "I won't win any Michelin stars"- while others are accusing her of trying to outdo Nigella. Why? Because they're both hot and apparently that's not allowed to happen twice. Funny though, while she's being accused of using her siren ways the same people are blasting her for taking dainty bites of her cooked food and not going to town on a spoonful of rice pudding. Can you imagine what that would look like and the outrage that would ensue if she did? She's wise to avoid Nigella territory - there's room for only one lady TV chef who makes mouth whoopee to a spoonful of lemon curd.
But the most childish reaction was the sour grapes tantrum from Giles Coren, food critic and presenter of BBC2's The Supersizers Go (never seen it. He looks extremely constipated in the photo I saw so he might want to start adding prunes to his recipes for a good week and not make any plans to leave the house.)
According to the Daily Mail, in addition to calling the show "a sickening sham" among other expletive-laced insults, he spewed on Twitter: "She leans in takes one WEENY bite with her finger cocked in the air, and then you just KNOW she gobs it out off camera." Dude, did you really publicly accuse her of having an eating disorder? Beyond that, she's clearly expressed on the show and in her book how important food, cooking, and in her own words 'eating it' are to her and the ritual family meal times played in her childhood. To boldly imply that she can't manage to swallow even a bite of food she's prepared from her own recipe you've completely and utterly undermined her character as a person. You may think you know food, Mr. Coren, but as a man you are truly without taste.
And the rest of the brouhaha surrounds the revelation that the house, the kitchen where she cooks, is not hers. What? It's not? But I swore I saw Jamie Cullum's underpants tossed over that Cath Kidston upholstered chair! I always assume it's a set because where I'm from, across the pond, everything is contrived for effect. Okay, we all wanted it to be hers, how lovely would that be? And that's why it looked that way, because it's a set. It's a photographer's house that is rented out for shows and shoots. So those charming little recipe boxes with the handwritten titles aren't hers, nor are those perfectly propped counters, tops of cupboards (come on, dead giveway, who does that) and side tables. That romantic and dreamy garden out back? In our dreams indeed. But to become hostile over this point is just stupid and embarrassing.
And as for the popular assessment that Sophie Dahl is 'smug'? I don't read that at all. I think she's happy.