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What’s the obsession with green onions?

I came to realize well into my adult life that, while I may not be allergic to them, my belly just does not like green onions. Or, as my grandfather would say, “They don’t like me.” The thing is, though, I try. I love the taste of green onions. One of my favorite holiday foods growing up was green onion chip dip. But for whatever reason, if I eat more than a few of them, I have to reach for the Alka-Seltzer.

But let me tell you, avoiding green onions is almost impossible. If you like Mexican, Chinese, Thai or anything Southwest, you are likely going to encounter this vegetable. They are chopped up and added to wonton soup, stir fries, dumplings, quesadillas, spinach dip or get this–Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza. No joke, I have had to ask for my fast food Mexican pizza with no green onions. If I forget, I have to pick them off the top–but they have this way of multiplying and frustrating me. I have to look at ingredients before buying them.

Oooh, these Trader Joe’s dumplings look delicious–oh wait, green onions are the third ingredient. I took a Thai cooking class a few months ago and we made egg rolls and spring rolls from scratch, and guess what was in them? Same with the dumplings we made. Oooh, Southwest corn and chile dip! Wait, green onions. Hey, what’s Bobby Flay making? Oh, there he goes with the green onions.

I guess the one saving grace is that oftentimes the green onions are added as a garnish and can be omitted or scraped off before they immerse themselves in whatever dish it is. But as I mentioned earlier, they get tough to pick out, especially if they are stuck to melted cheese.

Then sometimes I think, “Hey, maybe I should try green onions again.” After all, I don’t like raw onions either, but I do love them grilled or caramelized or stir-fried….or, in onion rings. So recently I tried grilling some green onions that we received from our local CSA. Maybe the charred version would be okay to my insides. The result? Delicious, but the same old green onion indigestion or heartburn or whatever it is came right back. So I guess it’s something I’ll have to continue to avoid, and well, there could be worse things to have an aversion to I guess!

And hey, if you like green onions, more power to you, and you can have mine.

Food Network Star is back

If you are a reality show junkie, you can get your fix pretty much year-round and on every major, minor and/or cable network. Food Network’s signature reality show–the type of show that has weekly eliminations–is Food Network Star, the program they use as a breeding ground for, um, Food Network stars. It’s now in its 8th season, and what really put this show on the map was the winner of Season 2–a dude named Guy Fieri. More recent winners have been Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King; Aarti Sequeira, and her show Aarti Party; and Melissa D’Arabian (Ten Dollar Dinners).

In recent seasons, they have had 8-10 contestants, but this year they expanded it to 15 and started it earlier in the calendar year. The first episode aired last Sunday and episode 2 was last night. This year, instead of having regular judges and food network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson along with network superstar Bobby Flay, the producers have done it differently by making up three teams of five–each with a coach. Flay is now a coach, and his competitors are Giada De Laurentiis (who was a judge for most of last season) and Alton Brown (who has also guested on the show) The contestants were hand-picked by each coach–and as you might expect, they sort of reflect their coaches’ personalities and, to some degree, their cooking styles. The team that wins the weekly challenges is all safe, and Bob and Susie choose one from each of the other two teams for potential elimination. The two are given a task in which they will be judged by Bob and Susie only.

Some of these contestants look like stars immediately, which is usually the case early on. It’s also typical for some of them to look just awful the first week or two as they may know how to cook, but presenting that on camera and/or to a live audiences is another thing altogether. There just aren’t many people out there who can do that effectively. Cristie Schoen from Team Alton is one of those who just couldn’t do this, and she was sent packing last Sunday. But Josh Lyons from Team Giada barely escaped elimination. That guy fronts a rock band (something he referred to about twelve times last week) but he is really awkward talking about food on camera.

Last night it was between Kara Sigle of Team Bobby and Judson Allen of Team Alton. If Alton had lost another team member, it would not have looked good. But Kara was the one sent home, and wow, was she ever awful in the main challenge, in which the contestants had to use a landmark NYC restaurant as a reference point to create a dish that they had to describe while being a “tour guide” on a double decker bus. Kara had Sylvia’s in Harlem, known for chicken & waffles. Kara complained about her assignment and was doomed from the beginning, especially when she tried to just re-create the dish and not do anything creative with the idea.

So it’s down to 13, and while we don’t intend to post a weekly recap, we may write about the show every once in a while. If you watched it last night, let us know your thoughts in the space below.

Cooking Shows and Food TV on the Rise

A number of new genres of television shows have become extremely popular in recent years, due in large part to the wider exposure of specialized networks and the general expansion that always permeates the entertainment industry. For example, there are a number of shows that revolve around “dark creatures” – such as vampires, zombies, etc. – that have become very popular just in the last two years. However, even more sweepingly popular, because of its variety, is the concept of cooking shows, or rather, food-related shows, which have become some of the most popular items on direct tv. Generally, there are three types of food related shows – informative, instructional, and competitive. Here is a brief glance at each type.

Informative cooking shows strive to show you things about the food or cooking industries. This of course can have a good deal of variety within itself. It may apply to showing an audience the best restaurants in a certain area, or simply some of the best dishes around. Consider “Man Vs. Food” as an example. In this show, the charismatic, food-obsessed host Adam Richman travels the country exploring towns for their most famous restaurants and dishes. Each episode culminates in an eating challenge in which Richman devours something either deathly spicy or shockingly huge. It’s a great show for showing off the top restaurants in popular areas, as well as some decadent treats and dishes.

Instructional cooking shows are more about showing the audience how to prepare certain types of dishes or meals. There are many different shows that follow this basic formula, and often the audience sees fit to literally cook along with the host. One good example is “Boy Meets Grill,” in which star chef Bobby Flay shows his audience different tips not only for how to cook great food, but how to throw an amazing barbecue. These shows, in general, are very helpful for those who have culinary interests or inclinations.

Finally, there are competitive cooking shows, which may well be the most popular. These shows – such as “Top Chef” – feature host chefs, celebrity chefs, and cooking contestants, who compete for who can make the best dish, often with all of them using a single ingredient at the core of the dishes. Generally, contestants are eliminated one by one, until only one chef remains, and is crowned Top Chef. This can be instructional, as you do get to see amazing food created, but it is meant primarily for entertainment purposes.

Next Food Network Star premieres June 5

Sure proof that the years are whizzing by–Food Network’s hit reality show, Food Network Star, will premiere its 7th season on Sunday, June 5. This season, they have expanded the field to 15 contestants, and promoted Giada di Laurentiis to judge alongside long-time judge and fellow Food Network personality Bobby Flay, and network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson. There will also be appearances by Alton Brown, Cougar Town star Courteney Cox, Paula Deen Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, Wolfgang Puck and more.

The finalists include: Mary Beth Albright (Washington, D.C.), Justin Balmes (Marietta, Ga.), Whitney Chen (New York), Katy Clark (Long Beach, Calif.), Penny Davidi (Los Angeles), Justin Davis (Minneapolis), Howie Drummond (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Jyll Everman (Glendora, Calif.), Susie Jimenez (Carbondale, Colo.), Juba Kali (New Orleans), Jeff Mauro (Elmwood Park, Ill.), Vic “Vegas” Moea (Las Vegas), Chris Nirschel (Hoboken, N.J.), Orchid Paulmeier (Bluffton, S.C.), and Alicia Sanchez (New York).

For more information about the show including contestant photos and bios, please visit http://www.multivu.com/players/English/46437-Food-Network-Star/ or go to www.foodnetwork.com/star

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