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Friday, June 27

Guess What Mary Nolan: I Like Rules!

Watching a rerun of Mary Nolan's Chic & Easy (on Redlasso once again, as I've repeatedly let it slip my mind to record it. Symbolic? Probably.), I was struck by something:

I like rules!

And the apparent lack of any on Mary's show is driving me crazy.

In the ideal Food Network world—one in which everything is easy, accessible, and fast—I'm confused when it comes to rules, because Mary (and lots of other hosts do it too) keeps acting like there aren't any!


On tomatoes: "San Marzano are fabulous. If you can't find those, anything will work!"

On kettle corn: "... for this you can use anything you have. You can buy it in the store, you can pop it in the microwave."

I know the point of all this is to put the viewer at ease and let them know the dish will still be okay with a substitution. But to me, ingredients lose all importance when a host repeatedly tells the viewer that they can be changed, altered, eliminated, or added... repeatedly!

Modification suggestions can be useful, though—when they're unexpected or actually helpful. For example, if Ina uses a certain type of blue cheese (probably Stilton) she might also recommend some other kinds of blue cheese you could use if Stilton wasn't available (maybe Roquefort), but she doesn't get all crazy and say that using cheddar or string cheese would okay, too.

But with Mary Nolan, I imagine her making a lasagna and saying something along the lines of,

"For this, I use lasagna noodles since it's a lasagna, but you can really use whatever kind of noodles you have on hand. Or just leave 'em out completely. Or maybe just use bread if you have a few slices around."

Ummm... that's not a lasagna!

Like I said, Mary Nolan is not the only one guilty of this. I'm sure that while preparing to do her six episodes, suggesting substitutions is right up there on the list of things to talk about while cooking, right below "Who doesn't like [fill in name of ingredient]?!" and "What goes better with [any pastime related or unrelated] than [thing your cooking]?!"


P.S.- I love this post's title because it reminds me of the infamous "Guess what: I like facts!" fight between Rosie and Elisabeth on The View. [2:17-2:24]

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At 6/27/2008 3:22 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Mary Nolan is looking mighty fine.

And Jake, you got way too much time on your hands.

At 6/27/2008 4:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't like her...and it's because she is a tool

At 6/27/2008 5:53 PM , Anonymous Tom N said...

The substitution thing drives me nuts too. Why bother mentioning an item if anything else will do? What I'd really love is for show hosts to mention brands they like and why, but I doubt that'll ever happen.

At 6/27/2008 5:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is Not a chef, nor a cook...that's why. She does not know food, or about flavors or tastes. What a shame of air time!!!!

At 6/27/2008 7:41 PM , Blogger Ronnie said...

The kettle corn substitution was really annoying because the kettle corn was essential to the "sweet" part of the "sweet and smoky popcorn". No kettle corn = No "sweet"

So I am definitely a fan of rules as well. If for no other reason than without them, our palates would suffer atrocities that should remain unnamed.

At 6/28/2008 9:53 AM , Anonymous PatriciaA said...

I saw her show once and was really disappointed. Her body motions jerk across the kitchen and she constantly seems to be trying to imitate RR which isn't good.
I was really comfortable watching Healthy Appetite then this show came on and I turned off the Tv to do my dishes.

Trust me it takes a lot for me to do my dishes so that is saying something.

At 6/28/2008 12:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that's the last we've seen of Mary, but I couldn't help but notice that some FN "stars" have to schlep their own food, running back and forth to the refrigerator, while others (such as Giada) have everything laid out for them at the beginning. If you added the "transaction time" that Mary needed to take things out of the fridge, unwrap them from their plastic, etc., to the dialogue, she might have had time to slow down and simulate a normal human being. Don't know if that was FN's choice or hers, but it was certainly the wrong one.

At 6/28/2008 6:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

she's very awkward and unnatural. its a bit painful to watch.

At 6/28/2008 8:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy, this woman actually has a name? I saw a portion of one of her shows and eeeuuu is all I can say. Where does FN find some of these people? And I agree with your comments - Don't substitute, bad idea. She won't be on my DVR recording!

At 6/28/2008 11:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it's painful to watch. She needs to tie her hair back too. and you forgot to mention she says " you can eye-ball" it too many times in one show. Her first few ones she did or at least the one I watched I counted at least 7!

Let me know if any of you heard her say that.

At 6/29/2008 5:12 PM , Blogger A. Sunshine said...

She's horrible. Get Jeffrey Steingarten a show.

At 6/29/2008 8:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never seen anyone so uncomfortable in a kitchen. What are her credentials? Her voice is annoying, she looks hurried and sounds breathless for nothing - her recipes are trash. And this is chic?

At 6/29/2008 9:59 PM , Anonymous John from Raleigh, NC said...

I agree with the majority of the comments, she is just so nervous and uncomfortable in front of the camera.

I don't get it, you would like Bob T. would want to encourage new shows and new ideas. This girl is not ready for prime time but I am sure with proper coaching she could have been. Why doesn't someone from FN work with her and the producer to smooth things out. For that matter, it is almost like watching a one act play. Why are there not more edits to smooth things out.

Oh well, I wish her the best.

At 6/30/2008 8:00 AM , Anonymous dairyland girl said...

Here's my question: why does FN put someone like poor, woefully unprepared Mary on the air, when all the while on Next FN Star they keep hammering people about being prepared and ready from day one and blah blah blah. Such a disconnect.

At 6/30/2008 8:43 AM , Anonymous dairyland girl said...

Unless....horrors....they think Mary WAS ready...

At 7/01/2008 10:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find her annoying specially when every 5 seconds she says the word "soooooo".

At 7/02/2008 1:47 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Tuschman is a Hall Of Fame hypocrite for putting Ms. Nolan on the air without the proper preparation all the while preaching to TNFNS contestants how to act and prepare.

Someone said disconnect. I think Tuschman is just a complete asswipe.

At 7/03/2008 10:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you watch Giada and RR's early episodes, they are pretty akward. I find Mary's approach refreshing and engaging. I think if you don't like the show, you're simply not the target audience for the show. Mary's a novice which makes her relatable for other budding foodies and emerging home cooks. I think that the FN is simply trying to speak to every level of foodie from experienced and frequent dinner party hosts to singles occasionally entertaining a few friends. Perhaps the FN should categorize their program according to skill set. Mary may be unpolished and a little nervous but I think that the FN is trying to develop her talent and they clearly have an eye for raw talent as evidenced by the success of many stars who started out there.

At 7/03/2008 10:21 AM , Blogger jacob said...

I think my complaints, and the complaints of others, are legitimate. I pretty much am the target audience for her show (young 20s, male, novice, etc.), so saying people don't like it simply because you assume they aren't the ones being targeted is a little short-sighted.

And again, my complaints are not personal against Mary. I've never said it's easy to host a show.

But I do have a hard time believing people when they say they she "makes things look so easy" when that really isn't the case.

At 7/06/2008 11:08 AM , Blogger LIRoadking said...

I disagree with the original poster!

Cooking for me is not to recreate someone else’s dish, but to be able to learn how to meld all the favors that others use and create your own dish that the people you cook for will enjoy.

Watching the Food Network allows that me the opportunity to use one of the Network Hosts basic concepts and then spin my own ideas of what I believe will also taste good.

The world we live in was built by creative people, otherwise we would all still be living in the Dark Ages. We all can't follow the same path in life or have the same tastes, that's why variation can be a good thing.

In my Kitchen the basic rule is there are no real rules, just the basic culinary guidelines that I can deviate from. If I followed the straight and narrow I might as well just eat out at a fast food assembly line chain restaurant every day.

At 6/01/2009 12:08 AM , Blogger WesternLady said...

I call it "Cheap and Sleazy".


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