I’d like to take a break from the frivolity of blogging about abortion, constitutional theory, and peace in the middle east, to address a truly important topic: Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Guy Fieri (né Ferry it turns out) has come in for some recent and apparently not so recent crap for being an over-exposed douche with a couple of crappy restaurants. The Westword dis and the NYT wrecking ball are both worth reading, if for no other reason than to stock up on entertaining invective such as “hair like space-alien pornstar pubes” or “whirling hypno wheel … where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex.” Gotta remember that last one for my next opposition brief!
And it’s true that Fieri may be a bit overexposed, what with the TV show, the other TV show, the TV game show, the original restaurants, the new restaurant, the website, the books, the accessories, and the constant need to come up with new ways to say “off the hook!” “out of bounds!” and “on the _____ to flavortown!”*
But I’d like to stand up for Triple-D – Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
In this show, Guy drives around in his signature red convertible (OK, probably flies to where some truck has recently delivered his signature red convertible – I get the kitsch but really don’t mind it!) to the sorts of restaurants that serve yummy food but may not make the Michelin Guide or even Zagat’s. I disagree with Westword that he sets himself up as
the proverbial white knight of normal, average, hard-working, unpretentious Midwestern diners who are oppressed and marginalized by hoity-toity East and West Coast chefs and their expensive, unapproachable, foreign-sounding dishes.
In fact what he does is celebrate a certain kind of non-chain, non-fancy restaurant with good food and – this is what I love the most – a good story. The restaurants are true celebrations of American creativity and entrepreneurialism. Some have been in a family for generations. Others were started by a couple with a small nest egg and a love for cooking, or by a classically-trained chef who wanted to call his own shots, or – my favorite, because these are the ones I am most likely to track down – by an immigrant family recalling and cooking their grandmother’s recipes, sometimes sending back to the old country for missing ingredients.
The shows always involve interviews with diners, who extoll the food and, often, the owners. Hell, some of the customers have been coming since they were kids, or their parents or grandparents ate at the same place.
It’s a celebration of good food and friendly restaurants as creators and sustainers of community.
So, yeah, Guy has a bit too much signature-this and –that (bleached tips, backward sunglasses, weird goatee, flip flops,** cargo shorts, red convertible, repetitious slang), but who on the telly doesn’t have a shtick? We tune in for the restaurants, the people, their stories, and the food. And have tracked down many a Triple-D joint on our travels, almost always to good result.
Extra bonus Conan O’Brien/Guy Fieri spoof: Brozen Brogurt: The Frozen Yogurt Just for Bros!
* Tim and I always try to gauge Guy’s real view of the food he’s tasting on camera by the vehicle on which he is traveling to Flavortown. Someday some poor joint is going to whip up their specialty for Guy and hear that it’s “on the mo-ped to Flavortown!”
** I do wonder about the flip flops and the health code. Don’t want to get in the way of the signature, though!