The F Word runs on BBC's Channel 4, and it's the best of Ramsey's shows (as intense as Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, but deeper and more varied). Ramsey invites a team of amateur chefs -- butchers, society ladies, Emergency hospital techs -- to cook a night's meal in his London restaurant: if the customers don't like a course, they don't pay for it.
That's plenty of fun, but the real heart of the show concerns Ramsey's
projects to investigate the ethical and philosophical aspects of what
we eat. This season he raises two Berkshire pigs in his back yard, with
the help of his darling kids, revealing the full ramifications of our
carnivorous predilections from birth to slaughter. The pigs become
pets, of course, and Ramsey visibly weeps when he finally has to take
them to the abattoir (and so do we, the slaughter is uncensored too).
But he and the kids recover nicely: in the next show they're filmed
making sausage out of Trinny and Susannah's intestines -- those pet
pigs retain their names down to the grilling of their tails.
the way there are segments on factory farming of pigs and veal, on
lobsters crayfish crowding out the native species in England's watery
bi-ways (Ramsey goes crayfish trapping), on spear-fishing for sea bass
off the coast of Devon, and a plea to the English to start loving and
eating their native freshwater eels again. Ramsey's a big mouth for the
ethical, the sustainable, and the slow -- he dives into these subjects
with his trademark passion and competitiveness, and it's great fun to
watch him trying to wrestle a bucket of eels into submission.
the funniest recurring segment, Ramsey stages a competition. He invites
a British celeb to cook his or her best dish in the restaurant kitchen.
Meanwhile Ramsey prepares his own version of the same meal --
Shepherd's pie, say, or lasagna. The two versions are sent out side by
side to be judged by a table of customers, and Ramsey can hardly
contain his excitement. If the pick goes to his dish, he whoops with
joy. But just as often, hilariously, he loses -- and when he gets the
news, he visibly droops, crestfallen and astonished.
It's a fabulous show, in other words, interspersed with some awesome recipes -- I used the video of Ramsey cooking rabbit fricassee
with tagliatelle from this season when I cooked my own rabbit last
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year. Ramsey's despised by the French, and no doubt by the celeb chefs
whose photos he had made into toilet paper as a gag for the show, but
he's f-king irrepressible. You gotta love the guy.