How could we turn down Loyd Grossman as a guest on Nighthawks. He was intriguing in an idiosyncratic way and back in those days Loyd was “hot,” because of his fabulous series “Through The Keyhole,” which found him snooping around the houses of the rich and famous. He was also the first Masterchef, a seminal cookery show, which is still running, albeit without Loyd.
We couldn’t let Loyd come on Nighthawks without giving some novel twist to the interview, so we decided that we would have a Chinese chef serve Loyd and I some deep-fried crickets to eat, “live” on air.
Back then, my culinary adventure with Loyd was way ahead of “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here,”which really irritates me. I have to switch channels everytime I see grown-ups sitting in a glass case full of revolting maggots, repulsive worms, disgusting snakes, terrifying spiders, or sneaky scorpions. Not content to just sit or lie down, to allow these creepy-crawlies traverse their bodies, sometimes the contestants have to eat certain of these insects. Biting the head off a fat maggot makes the contestant look like they are squeezing a suppurating sore and swallowing the pus.
I can only imagine it is bad judgement, driven by the desperation of failing careers, that tempts certain people, we once thought were reasonably refined, to abandon themselves to such public self-abasement in the jungle. Others take part as a way of becoming professional reality show personalities, willing to be demeaned in any fashion at the whim of the producers.
Are they so hypnotized by the notoriety they have achieved as personalities, on some crass, trashy, reality show, that somehow or other, they delude themselves into believing that their, trite, shallow, vulgar, puerile performances have elevated them to a pantheon of television personality greats.
Reality television has no pantheon of greats. Bar the winner, those who get kicked out of the jungle, have not advanced one step further in their careers, but they’ll take any attention they can muster, even if it requires ratting out their ex-new best friends in the tabloids.
Meanwhile back at Nighthawks, it is getting close to air time and there is still no sign of the Chinese chef. The floor manager informs us that the original chef can’t make it, but a replacement has been found and will be with us shortly. Loyd was one of the first of the modern celebrity chefs. With his strangulated mid-Atlantic delivery, he sounded like he was chewing his words before he spat them out. He is now an OBE and was even awarded his own coat of arms for his contribution to heritage causes. Since he lent his name to popular sauces produced by Premier Foods, they have sold over 1 billion items bearing his name.
Frankly, I’ve had enough of tv chefs. I enjoyed Keith Floyd, who tippled while he cooked, but since then, a long production line of posy chefs have got the lot of them a bad name, in my book. I decidedly can’t handle the ones who swear and shout for effect. Throwing tantrums is so tedious and childish.
Instead of shouting abuse at humans, I’d prefer my chef to be alert to the possibility of chlorinated chicken reaching our tables. Have you heard about chlorinated chicken? In the US, chickens are dispatched to Chicken Heaven and then the carcasses are rinsed with chlorinated water, to kill off any lurgies in the chickens. The chlorinated chickens are almost an exclusively US product and they were banned in Europe until recently. MEPs, who are not allowed vote on this issue, are incensed at the prospect of the ban being lifted.
“The chlorination of chicken intended for human consumption is not acceptable for the EU. “
Worryingly, it doesn’t say how exactly they chlorinate them. Do they bring them down to the local baths and throw them in, a clutch at a time. In case they try and slip one past us, I’m definitely going to be a chicken sniffer from now on and at the first hint of chlorine, I’ll shout “meela murder,” because set beside the idea of chlorinated chicken, even some of the “bushtucker” they have to eat in the celebrity jungle doesn’t sound so bad.
So, anyway, there I am with Loyd in Nighthawks, waiting anxiously for the Chinese chef to bring us some deep-fried crickets and when he takes his cue from the floor manager, on he comes carrying a hot, flat pan. An alarm goes off in my head. A flat pan is no good for deep-fat frying.
Our replacement chef, instead of deep-fat frying the crickets, has sauted the little buggers in butter. There is no backing down, this is “live” television. Loyd and I exchange glances. The crickets are disgusting and slimy Somehow we manage not to throw up, but let me tell you, for days afterwards, I swore I could feel one of the little legs, stuck half way down my gullet.
A “bushtucker” moment for sure.Article Written by Shay Healy First Published in The Irish Daily Mail, Saturday 23rd Nov 2013 Shay Healy’s latest eBook ‘The Danny Boy Triangle’ is Out Now on Kindle 2.99 Free Kindle Reader – download app