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Food Show Programs on Local PBS Stations


Anna Blume
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This is prompted by a recent inquiry at WETA about a specific program, so monitors may wish to make this thread & its title more specific. However, I do think the matter is worth placing in a larger context.

I was interested in learning about Lidia's Italy, a fairly recent show that has been aired in other parts of the country starting in April. In many respects, this is the PBS version of what the Food Network offered when Lidia Bastianich's son's business partner, Mario Batali, cooked his way from one Italian region to the next. Reports are good. The cookbook, interesting, at a glance.

I wrote to WETA to ask about availability and received this in reply:

Thank you for your email and for watching WETA TV 26. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.

At this time we do not have plans to add "Lidia's Italy" to our program schedule, however, I will be sure to share your interest with our Programming Department. I hope this helps.

While we do not broadcast "Lidia's Italy" we do air "Lidia's Family Table" Saturday afternoons at 3:30 pm.

Again, thank you for watching and for taking the time to share your interests.

In general, I've felt that local affiliates don't quite recognize the popularity of food shows, especially given the inconvenient hour they rebroadcast old episodes of the same limited repertoire. Or am I mistaken in believing our shared interests are relatively common? Wouldn't tours of Neaopolitan pizzerias attract more prime-time weekday viewers than historians tracing the paper trail of a family's heirloom musket?

You'd think that given the move towards culinary travel shows that local stations would see the wisdom of combining two traditional subjects that PBS pioneered in broadcasting alternatives to network television. In terms of "Lidia's Italy", it's June, the time when newlyweds fly over to Positano in droves and vacationing locals let their stomachs dictate European destinations.

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Not really a reply to your thoughtful post, but Maryland Public Television (which I find generally superior to WETA) has been showing Lidia's Italy on Saturday afternoons. Channel 22 on your dial. Unfortunately, they're in their pledge-drive orgy of bad programming, so the next broadcast of Lidia's Italy isn't till June 30.

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This area is lucky in that there are three public television stations, WETA (26), WHUT (32), and MPT (22). All of them have some cooking shows, but I think WHUT and MPT have more than WETA. A lot of what each station airs may be dictated by who sponsors the station. WETA is much more DC centric, WHUT is part of Howard Univ. and MPT is sponsored by the state of MD. So each has a different slant. WETA is much more news and politics wonk oriented than the others, while WHUT is more in tune with the black community than the other two, and MPT is more suburban and Baltimore centric. I like all of them for different reasons.

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Hersch, thanks for the information. Looking at the descriptions of programs aired thus far, it sounds as if the choice of dishes prepared is tame and very basic, but it's good to know there's more to come and I look forward to seeing some of the locations.

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Hersch, thanks for the information. Looking at the descriptions of programs aired thus far, it sounds as if the choice of dishes prepared is tame and very basic, but it's good to know there's more to come and I look forward to seeing some of the locations.

DW: WETA airs from American U.

I know, actually they broadcast from Shirlington, VA. WAMU is the American Univ. station. Slip of the fingers as I was thinking of something else at the time. I went back and changed the post as you were posting.

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This area is lucky in that there are three public television stations
Indeed. During my Babylonian Captivity, when I was in exile in North Carolina, the public television available in Washington was among the things I missed most. Down there, public television is monopolized by UNC, which runs the same programming on every public TV station in the entire state, with the exception of one independent station in Charlotte (which isn't where I was). That wouldn't have been so bad if the programming was good, of course, but it wasn't. Programs like "North Carolina Now", "North Carolina People", "What's Up in North Carolina", "North Carolina Weekend" dominated their program schedule and were almost uniformly without interest to me. (I may have made up one of the titles, but it really is that bad.)
WAMU is the American Univ. station.
Which is a radio station only.
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Create is an HD PBS channel on our MC Comcast digital lineup--I must be part of the target audience for Lidia's shows, because I keep catching the same ones! (They replay the morning shows in the evenings) Currently they're running the Family Table series, but Lidia's Italy is listed in the program guide on the link above--hopefully that means they will eventually show it. I actually thought I'd seen it already, but I must be recalling the show called Lidia's Italian Kitchen...
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Just saw an excellent show on WHUT called Endless Feast. I had just watched an episode of "Lidia's Italy" about Friulia, and left the t.v. on, and the show came on afterward.

Each episode apparently features a local foods dinner. cooked and served at a farm, by local chefs. This episode was in Portland, Oregon, with a three-person catering company called Sympatico, which organizes and produces these field dinners on a regular basis. They essentially set up a restaurant in a farm field and served a meal to 100 people, cooked by the chefs from two local restaurants. The meals featured Indian-style dishes with grass-fed lamb, mid-summer produce, locally made yogurt by a large commercial producer, Nancy's, and local wine. The show followed the caterers visiting the farms, the winery and its vineyard, the yogurt factory, and the restaurants where the chefs were doing pre-meal prep. And then the meal, served family-style on long tables set up in a corn field.

Strangely, when I consulted the schedule, WHUT the show wasn't listed. But it was really interesting, and what a great idea!

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Just saw an excellent show on WHUT called Endless Feast. I had just watched an episode of "Lidia's Italy" about Friulia, and left the t.v. on, and the show came on afterward.

Each episode apparently features a local foods dinner. cooked and served at a farm, by local chefs. This episode was in Portland, Oregon, with a three-person catering company called Sympatico, which organizes and produces these field dinners on a regular basis. They essentially set up a restaurant in a farm field and served a meal to 100 people, cooked by the chefs from two local restaurants. The meals featured Indian-style dishes with grass-fed lamb, mid-summer produce, locally made yogurt by a large commercial producer, Nancy's, and local wine. The show followed the caterers visiting the farms, the winery and its vineyard, the yogurt factory, and the restaurants where the chefs were doing pre-meal prep. And then the meal, served family-style on long tables set up in a corn field.

Strangely, when I consulted the schedule, WHUT the show wasn't listed. But it was really interesting, and what a great idea!

I saw (and enjoyed) an episode of Endless Feast yesterday. They were in Marin County, CA, and used beef from the farm where the meal was hosted, eggs and veggies from some other farmers in and around Petaluma, bread from an artisanal baker in Sausalito, etc. Looked like a lot of fun!
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On August 19th, PBS (on HD and digital channels) is running its Chefs A' Field program with an episode that will feature Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong and their children Eve and Eamonn. The show has them touring Polyface Farms. and then the chef cooks with the kids - chicken with chanterelles, and braised pork belly with fresh beans. Word has it that if you give Restaurant Eve some advance notice, you can order the chicken dish.

20070808_email_chefs_sm.jpg

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This could be interesting....(from an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow in W magazine):

Being unpredictable in both her personal and professional lives, it seems, is not only her best defense against the pigeonholers, it's also her way of enjoying the success she's earned. In September the family will be back in London. But in October and November, she reveals, she'll be making several trips to Spain for her latest project—believe it or not, a PBS food show that she's cohosting with Mario Batali. "We'll be in a car, road-tripping," she says with a grin. (When she was 15, Paltrow, who speaks fluent Spanish, spent a few months with a Spanish family in Toledo and considers the country a third home.) She and Batali are (surprise!) friends, and when he told her he had this show in the works, "I told him, 'I'll go with you.' Later, he was like, 'Are you joking?' And I was like, 'No, I'm actually not joking!'
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