Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Children's Television

Jason and I, along with most of the rest of the country, have gotten really into a TV show here called MasterChef Australia. It's a reality show, and as such, whittles down a group of amateur chefs to one winner, through a series of incredibly difficult/crazy culinary challenges. We never watch cooking shows, and neither of us are all that great at cooking. But this show is super-entertaining to watch. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it doesn't focus on drama between contestants or mean-spiritedness. It's just like, "Y'all here's some sheep's brains, beetroot, and a tub of cream cheese. Make something yummy." It's like MacGyver meets Julia Child.

Right now, it airs almost every night of the week, and Ava has started watching parts of it with us. And inexplicably, she loves it! We don't normally let the kids watch any primetime TV--I'm usually not comfortable with some of the commercials or previews of later shows that come on. I mean, you and your kid can be watching a football game or a kid's show early in the evening, and then an ad for "Criminal Intent" or "Law and Order: SVU" comes on. Yeah, that's what my 6 year old needs to see.

But we've been letting her watch MasterChef with us. And she is cracking us up with her commentary. She's some kind of cooking authority, all of a sudden. Last night, she was watching the contestants in the main challenge. They were all shucking oysters or something. One guy was having a hard time, and Ava turned to us and said, "He's giving it a go, and that's what's important." Recalling that episode later, she told us, "I really thought Joanne would have to go home cause her oysters were gritty."

Someone was rolling out the pastry for a lemon tart, and she mused, "That looks too thick." (This is someone who wouldn't know a lemon tart if it hit her in the head. Or eat anything with identifiable lemon in it, either.)

Tonight, we were watching another two of the chefs try to cook 3 major dishes at once, with the clock counting down. Ava was getting really anxious as their time wound down. As the camera zoomed in on one of the guys slicing mushrooms, Ava heaved a big sigh. "They're not multi-tasking!" she said in exasperation. My jaw just dropped. I have no idea where she heard that word. And what's more--she was right!

It was bedtime before the end of the show, and we promised her she could watch the rest online before school in the morning. It was the only way we could get her into bed without serious drama. We are baffled. But at least now she knows that deef fried silken tofu goes nicely with mushrooms and shitake salt and pepper.


  1. This made me laugh so hard! I love that Ava is sharpening her critical skills!

    And that she talks like an Aussie--"giving it a go"!

    She is so sweet. And who knows, you should let her cook!

  2. Jimmy just called out "What's so funny?!" from the other room, because I was chortling about Ava's gritty oysters line. I love that she's not only aware of the intricacies of the cooking, but also knows how to play the game and what will get somebody sent home.

    Jude's best friend's little sister (did you follow that?) is 4, and she has started obsessing over how-to videos on YouTube. The other day, she spent about 10 minutes explaining to me how she had learned how to separate an egg. She was full of extremely helpful tips.

  3. Sounds like Ava's comments are far more entertaining than the show itself!
    I love that she has such helpful comments for the contestants, too.
    She's amazing!

  4. I love this post on several levels. Lately when we were within the range of TV, I watched a whole day of one of those cooking competition shows. What hooked me was the fact that those people actually know things about the ingredients and processes. I also am struck by Ava's "give it a go" remark. When we were there last, I read a commentary contrasting the Australian and American attititudes about competition. It made the point that while the American ethic could be summarized by, "Second place is first loser", the Aussie sense is that the most important this is to "Give it a go." So it seems that Ava is already sufficiently Aussie that we may never give her a taste for crushing the opposition beyond hope of recovery.

  5. Gretchen--that is too funny! Maybe I should watch some of those how-to's. I only figured out how to separate an egg recently.

    Dad--don't worry, though Ava may be Aussie, her daddy is still very much American. Last year during her school's cross country day, where all the kids run races, Ava said something about how the most important thing was that she try her best, and that "it doesn't matter who wins". And I could see Jason battle within himself to let that one go. I think he ended up telling her, "It is most important to try your best, but it's nice to win sometimes, too."

    He came to play!

  6. I so love "giving it a go." Does she have an Australian accent?

    Also, I LOVE Top Chef-- have you seen it? The US version of MasterChef. It's one of my favorite reality shows. And Ava is right. Lord help you if you have grit in your oysters.

  7. As your dad said, this is great on different levels!
    Ava becoming more Aussie much to Jason's chagrin, Ava's commentary, and Ava getting into cooking - you never know, get her to help you in the kitchen with some vegies and fruit and she may actually eat some - atleast that's what I've heard!
    And to answer Beth one of your commenters (if I may) no, Ava is not altogether Aussie in her accent in my opinion, in fact my daughter has picked up an American accent from Ava (which I get asked all the time about from others:))

  8. oh one more thing, my brothers 4 kids (ages ranging from 2 to 12) watch this show religiously every night! What's with it anyway? :)

  9. 6 years old!!??!!! What a doll!
    Loved this post and I want to see Ava! XOXO

  10. That is so cute, and fun. I think watching the show should be one of your special bonding times. Her comments are the best. Years ago I was home with my youngest and we watched "A Makeover Story" (yeah, for me). I always fixed us a snack plate of certain goodies. That part he loved.