‘Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals’ – Masterpiece or Mayhem?

It is undeniable that to the archetypal working mother, ‘Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals’ must be nothing short of a Godsend. As if by some sort of magical incantation cast by one of the world’s most popular wizards, otherwise known as the legend that is Harry Potter, Jamie Oliver appears to concoct his imaginative and awe-inspiring meals out of nothing but thin air. The burning question is however, are his 30 minute meals truly THAT magic? Well it was my prerogative to find out, by becoming one of the seemingly millions of viewers of the TV sensation that’s aired on a docile Sunday night at 8pm, just after the kids have gone to ‘sleep’. But would it really tingle my taste buds?

It is debatable as to whether Jamie’s ‘realistic’ stance on the programme is entirely believable, mostly due to the fact that within two seconds of gracing our TV screens, all of the kitchen utensils and equipment under the sun are already ‘magically’ laid out as if waiting patiently to be used. Most probably by some old dear in the production crew who waits on the iconic chef hand-and-foot in a religiously idolising manner. This poses the question that if Jamie is as ‘real’ as he claims to be, then why don’t we all have the luxury of one of these little domestic minions? I know I certainly don’t! In all honesty, if presented with the choice, I am almost 100% certain that all flustered mothers out there would prefer one of these bad boys to the slog that is ‘the dinner-time routine’, even if Jamie does offer a helping hand to make it just that little bit speedier than usual. Ah well ladies, leaves that extra ten minutes spare to catch the end of Eastenders with that well deserved steaming cuppa.

By observing Jamie once again however, it is apparent that this faithful domestic minion of his has also been lending a hand with none other than his grocery shopping, which in itself deducts from Jamie’s ‘realistic’ credit as if he can cook it, he can sure as hell shop for it. I don’t know about you, but food shopping for me does not refer to anything but the word ‘haste’. When trawling the aisles of Tesco’s, lugging an over-flowing trolley of calorie-covered amenities, it does not even begin to occur to me that I need to go out of my way to find some ridiculously well hidden packet of individually-spiced-stemmed-ginger-hand-picked-by-some-poor-sod-in-a-far-off-land-who-gets-paid-in-peanuts. It just doesn’t happen does it? Unfortunately here, Jamie disappoints in his ability to set himself apart from the other cloned celebrity chefs who use ingredients that most of us have honestly never even heard of.

“Muummmm, when’s dinner going to be ready?” The one question that no mother on the face of the planet wants to be bombarded by. It occurred to me when watching Jamie Oliver on my new HD ready TV, that although he attempts regularly through verbal input to justify that his 30 minute meals really are simplistic, quick and easy, how is a working mother expected to produce such delights at the same time as looking after her troublesome brats? I mean, angels.

By creating ‘Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals’ woman-kind everywhere are unified by the fact that once again, a ‘how to cook’ programme broadcast on television has highlighted the fact that men can just as easily cook the ‘hearty’ family meal and are just as capable. It is a common misconception on most men’s part that ‘everything women can do, men can do better’. Well I say prove it! If men truly are the ‘superior gender’ then why are women doing all the work when they are so…fragile?   Emily Davison didn’t throw herself in front of that horse for nothing you know.

When comparing Jamie Oliver to other acclaimed chefs who make an appearance on a TV show of their very own, it is apparent that perhaps by cancelling out any ‘fake’ attributes that his programme may possess, he is in fact very down to earth and his head is in the same honest, rural place as his heart. Quite contrastingly to Nigella Lawson for example, who appears to be under the deluded impression that the modern house-wife has quite literally days to give up in order to prepare ‘tomorrow night’s grub’. The reality is however, that nobody with a life actually has the time to do so and therefore Nigella fails where Jamie wins. Get a life Nigella! If the vast majority of her show wasn’t spent on one-too-many camera shots of her large posterior bending over to retrieve something from her equally large fridge, then maybe I, along with the rest of the viewing public would believe her. But we don’t.

Through Jamie’s convincingly accurate portrayal of the typical British household: Father and mother, along with the rest of the rabble, referring mainly to the average 2.4 children and vast array of guinea pigs, house rabbits, cats, dogs and hamsters, it appears to me that in a sense, his programme invokes an over-whelming sense of support for the viewing public, who are enthused to finally come across a man of minor celebrity status who can actually hand-on-heart say that he too, can relate to the stresses and strains that come with everyday family life. I think that I can quite honestly say that I believe him too.

A similar approach is also taken in the overall presentation of his cuisine, which would quite comfortably fit alongside Jamie in a traditional, rustic, Italian kitchen which exultantly follows ‘Mumma’s-a-home-a-made-a-recipes’ without fail. A beautifully presented host of delights which I’m sure any aspiring kitchen goddess would be proud to call her own masterpiece. The holistic embodiment of his meals are in fact, so homely and obscure in nature, that it obliterates the entire concept of ‘perfection’ as in this case, the abnormality of the food itself  is, unusually, the definition of perfect. The food that Jamie lovingly whisks up is through and through homemade, down to the very last molecule, and leaves us safe in the knowledge that it hasn’t been mass produced in some monstrous steel shack in the middle of nowhere, that belongs in horror films, and horror films only. He doesn’t expect his food to be perfect, and he doesn’t expect us to be either.

Whilst busy ‘doing his thing’, Jamie miraculously has time to chip in a few “umms”, “ahhs” and “oh that’s fantastic” in his oh so adorable voice which possesses a small lisp on words of a sibilant nature, to drive mothers everywhere into a frenzy of cooing, as if to virtually reach into the television set to pinch at one of his blushing red cheeks, which comes as no surprise after he’s remarkably cooked up an entire three course feast in just under half an hour. Quite an achievement if I do say so myself! No wonder he’s quite the heart throb. Predominantly I believe that half of the charm that comes as part of the package that is Jamie Oliver, is his ability, unlike various other chefs who appear to speak with some sort of plum in their privately-educated gobs and whose names I am not going to mention, to portray himself as ‘one of us’. The average Joe, who quite literally caters for the needs of his viewing public. This in my opinion is by far enough for the viewers to sink their teeth into and deem ‘Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals’ an ultimate TV hit.

By Holly Standfast

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