17 January 2016

Unconscious Time-Based Racism/Classism

So, while zoning out, I was watching one of the cooking-contest shows on Food Network last night, and realized something: Unconscious racism/classism embedded in the time limits for the already-edited-for-length contest segments. A one-half-hour-long total time segment locks out (in no particular order):

  • Rice. But it's not a very popular or versatile foodstuff, so blocking a central ingredient in the cuisines of approximately half of the world's population doesn't really matter.
  • Yeast-leavened breads. And there goes half of the remainder.
  • All other whole-kernel grasses (and, for that matter, buckwheat, which is not a grass/grain at all). Still smaller... now we're down to ahistorical New World-influenced Western Europe.
  • Roasted game. Can't do it at high heat, which means it's going to take a while.
  • Stews. Yeah, stew can be done in twenty minutes. Riiiiiiiight. And "stew" also includes a lot of curries.

So, instead, we get variation after variation on middle-class-and-above Northern European cooking, with "excitement" from adaptations to foodstuffs found in the western hemisphere. But no biryanis; no judges arguing over which contestant produced the tastiest tehdig; not even any risotto or jambalaya or paella. No red-cooked game fowl. No ragùs. Almost nothing from India or sub-Saharan Africa or the Arabian Gulf.

It's not like these are live or real-time shows; they're already edited for time. Editing down from 45 minutes to 11 for broadcast probably won't be that much harder than editing down from 30 minutes to 11 for broadcast... especially since it takes 15 seconds to show rice being started! Hell, even Iron Chef is edited down from an hour of cooking time to allow for showing the judges preening over their publicity opportunities.

No, the real "culprit" here is the idea that dinner has to be on the table from scratch in half an hour — which is, itself, a very classist and unconsciously racist conceit (you mean you can't use a slow-cooker to make chili????????).