SHELLEYVISION : Jamie's escape grates on me.Byline: JIM SHELLEY
THE good news is that for his latest project Jamie Oliver has gone to Italy.
The bad news is he's come back, and made another TV series about it (himself) into the bargain.
Don't get me wrong, Jamie's two previous shows - Jamie's Kitchen and Jamie's School Dinners - were terrific TV.
But Jamie's Great Escape is thin. It's lazy and manages to treat both its subject (Italians) and viewers as if they were as simple as Oliver himself.
Episode One started with Jamie bemoaning his life as a millionaire celebrity chef and deciding to mark his 30th birthday not by taking time off to be with his wife (so-called model and supernag Jools) and children (Poppy Honey and, um, Daisy Boo) but by driving to Sicily with a film crew from Channel 4.
As is traditional, we were then forced to endure the sight of Jamie and Jools using a programme on national television to complain about the press intruding on their privacy - shortly before a scene of Jamie in bed reading to his daughter and, as is his wont, forcing his kids to kiss him on the lips.
(Word to the wise, Jamie. No one is interested in your dull wife. By dragging your kids into this tripe tripe
the scalded and cleaned rumen and reticulum. The omasum is discarded because of the difficulty in cleaning between the leaves. , you're invading their privacy.)
With Jools sobbing, Jamie gleefully glee·ful
Full of jubilant delight; joyful.
glee drove off into the distance in his stupid camper van, the words, "Look after the kiddies!" hanging in the breeze.
Jamie had spent many hours polishing the van but didn't know how to look after it and, needless to say, hadn't learnt Italian either. (He's still struggling with English.)
The point of the series, he explained enthusiastically, was: "I wanna find out why the average Italian family eats so well, when millions of English families eat such scrote." (Told you.)
He arrived in Sicily, arguing passionately that Italy's "cucina povera" (simple, working-class cooking) was some of the best in the world (or "weld" as he put it) - even though no one would really argue otherwise.
Jamie, meanwhile, was parking his camper van in the grounds of an estate owned by the local countess.
"What's a countess?" he frowned. "What's it mean?" When he got his chance to learn how to set up a fish grill in a Sicilian market, he automatically whipped out his pestle pestle /pes·tle/ (pes´'l) an implement for pounding drugs in a mortar.
A club-shaped, hand-held tool for grinding or mashing substances in a mortar. and did that thing where he sticks his tongue out in the manner of Buster Bloodvessel and starts pounding.
"I know the punters in the market like their fish plain but I wanna know how adventurous they are," he said, adding fennel fennel, common name for several perennial herbs, genus Foeniculum vulgare of the family Umbelliferae (parsley family), related to dill. The strawlike foliage and the seeds are licorice-scented and are used (especially in Italian cooking) for flavoring. to everything as if Italians had never thought of that.
"I like my fish with a little bit of extra flavour," he added.
When the locals weren't convinced, Jamie patronisingly Adv. 1. patronisingly - with condescension; in a patronizing manner; "he treats his secretary condescendingly"
condescendingly, patronizingly complained that they were being like the schoolkids he had tried to woo away from Turkey Twizzlers.
Having arrived in Italy eulogising about the way the Italians make simple, tasty food and to learn from them, in both of the first two episodes he quickly assumes the mantle of teacher trying to introduce them to the two curses of British cuisine - sauces and over-ambitious seasoning.
"Your ingredients could ruin the taste of the fish!" the locals protest on both occasions.
In Sicily, having moaned that no one is helping him/fawning to him, it is not long before he's complaining, "I don't think they particularly like me!" - a situation he greets with amazement.
"Old grumpy bollocks bollocks or ballocks Taboo slang
an exclamation of annoyance, disbelief, etc. [Old English beallucas]
Verb 1. behind me is getting the arse ache 'cos my fish tastes better," he sulks sulk
intr.v. sulked, sulk·ing, sulks
To be sullenly aloof or withdrawn, as in silent resentment or protest.
n. , sounding like someone used to getting more praise and attention.
In tomorrow's show, he goes through exactly the same process again, finding a wonderfully rustic, simple local fish restaurant, then serving the chef the most yucky-looking fish pie imaginable - smothered in dollops of cream and cheese.
The chef brands Oliver's cooking "insipido", while Oliver's arrogant conclusion is that his cooking "might be too complicated for Sicily".
All of which makes you wonder whether Jamie Oliver is that good a chef after all.
HALF-BAKED: Oliver's van breaks down