Jamie Oliver’s American Roadtrip

Jamie Oliver. There’s a complex case for you. For me, anyway, for as much as I know, Reader, your views on Saint Jamie of Essex may be as polarised as mine are on.. avocado. I just don’t know anymore whether I love him or complely loathe him. For every animal welfare campaign (good)  there is a nauseating Sainsburies ad (bad). For every working parent he teaches basic, healthy cooking to (good) there is a ‘flavour shaker’ (bad). For every brilliant, tasty recipe he has ever presented to us in a book, there is a recipe for a bacon sandwich, or pages and pages of photographs of Jamie. Usually, standing with his arms crossed against a wall. With graffiti on it. Cos he is down with the kids, a’ight?


The American Roadtrip show is problematic for me. It is definitely a lifestyle show as opposed to a cooking show. Don’t get me wrong – there was food – someone briefly cooking gorditas, a ‘homegirl’ making a salad (with fairly non specific salad ingredients), I saw someone making enchildas ( possibly for me, the most appealing meal of the programme. Have I been able to find the recipe anywhere, including the accompanying book? No. No and hell, no). I saw Jamie getting stoned on Mezcal in an indoor market and filling a pinata donkey with sweets. I saw him making a stew that had cactus in it – do they sell cactus in Sainsburies Jamie? And 50 minutes in, I saw a recipe. For a chocolate tart. And very delicious it looked to0 – only trouble by this point I had started to doze off, so I can’t say exactly.

Maybe its my error – my error on a mismatch of expectation versus reality – but in a show such as this I find these snatched food images quite frustrating. Although its obviously supposed to be great fun to watch Jamie eat something and guess how it’s made, in reality, it just feels like the sales pitch for the book that hit the stores the very same day. I also don’t watch to find out Jamie’s views on drugs, gangs, Pamela Anderson, christenings, memorials or crime. I don’t much care what he thinks about crystal-meth addicts turning their life around. When we buy Jamie’s books I don’t think we buy them for social commentary, surely, we buy them for recipes. And the reason we don’t buy them for Jamie’s social commentary is because its not very interesting. Poignant to Jamie perhaps that he had a guy who worked for him, supposedly go back to his gang after there was a ‘hit’ and never be seen again, but really. That’s the story? You don’t know he’s not working the summer season in Benidorm flipping burgers? I think Jamie is fairly naive about the social causes of these problems and if I might venture, in his mateyness, a touch patronising. There are people that do that sort of thing very well, Louis Theroux a case in point. Louis Theroux on the other hand, doesn’t stick a cookery book onto his shows though, because he doesn’t pretend he has anything interesting to say about food.

Although its interesting to see Jamie go to parties (loved the guy with the Bluetooth dancing btw, I loved that) and christenings – I’m fascinated he was invited to go up, no doubt with a director along with the camera crew, to the font to witness the christening of a child of a family he had known for all of five minutes. Although I’m fascinated he would be desired company at a memorial to a gang member and had his poor nephew crying his eyes out on telly, I start to wonder about this intimacy. I really do. Why are random strangers inviting this man to some of the most intimate moments in their life for filming? Up to them, I guess, what they do. But I’m not sure what it has to do with how to making enchiladas.

So, now you know. If you like Jamie, if you’re interested in finding a picture of what food is like in another culture and you’re not all that worried about how to make it, you’ll probably love this. If you know anything about Mexican food ( I suspect I know more about Mexican food than Jamie does, still) or you don’t want to know about what Jamie thinks about street gangs.. you maybe better off doing something more constructive with your time. Like cleaning the bath.

Jamie’s American Roadtrip Channel 4


4 Responses to Jamie Oliver’s American Roadtrip

  1. emma t says:

    my favourite was Jamie calling everyone who wasn’t white ‘brother’. 🙂 UNlike you, though, I really enjoyed the mix of travelogue and recipes. I like the emphasis on the social side of food, and the reactions of the locals to Jamie’s take on their cooking. I really enjoyed the first one and will definitely watch again tomorrow!

    • Greedy Rosie says:

      Haha, the brother thing. Yeah, that made me chuckle too. I perfectly well accept that loads of people will love this programme. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series, Emma.

  2. Who could care what Jaime Oliver thinks about anything other than food, his a bloody chef for Christ’s sake, talk about food or piss off back to the kitchen. I don’t much care what Poker players have to say about food or footballers about politics, so why this shit? I mean is the world of TV so devoid of half way likeable people that they have to convert anyone semi-digestible into a presenter? Or is this what the chef’s have been positioning themselves for with all those long hours learning how to cook, has it all been for global media domination?

    Channel 4 have really lost the plot, they snapped up all these Chef’s presumably to make shows about food but now everything needs to fit some kind a formula, food+politics=ratings winner. It all seems so patronising, chefs telling people who work 40+ hours a week and commute that there bad parents or shit people because sometimes there too tired to cook a real dinner from scratch using 100% organic ingredients.

    Sorry Rosie, had a bit of a rant there!

  3. Greedy Rosie says:

    Oh Kevin, Controversial!

    I’m not sure I agree with you in entirety – from my experience of your blog, I think you like people with opinions, even if they are poker bloggers. I don’t ever mind people (even Gordon Ramsay, in fact) having an opinion, I just remind myself where the off switch is, is all.

    Also, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a chef on a tv say that you’re a bad parent or shit people if you can’t feed your family from scratch and 100% organic every night at all.I think they’re saying if you feed your kids full of rubbish or make no effort, or just buy cheap nasty battery chicken that has been pumped full of antibiotic and water, and processed meat you might have a questionable view in terms of nutrition and ethics. And I wholeheartedly agree. Cooking healthy decent food, even if its beans on granary toast with a poached egg on or a jacket potato with a hot filling (if you’re that busy)takes little more effort than chucking some shit out of a bag from the freezer or buying fast food. But thats my soapbox, and if I don’t stop myself I’ll go on all night.

    You are right in the respect that it comes over a bit patronising, sometimes though. One wonders how often these chefs are home cooking their own kids dinner. Its a lot easier when you can get the Nanny to sit down with them eh?

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