wherein our heroine, with the help of cable recycling and a DVR, discovers the travesty of $40 a Day: Nashville.
Just to be fair, those who know me personally know that Rachel Ray’s saccharin television persona sets my teeth on edge. In person, Ms. Ray could be the most interesting person in the world, able to discuss Foucalt, dark matter and astronomy or ancient Roman societal norms with the tweediest Ivory Tower denizen, but on TV she comes across as a bubble-headed, coked-up sprite and I find it more than a little off putting. Please take this bias into consideration as you read the following rant.
This morning I finally saw the episode of $40 a Day where Rachel invades Nashville. I’m not sure who the field producer was for this show or if they actually bought a map of the city but it does appear that they didn’t sit down with the editor and point out that the places that Rachel is talking about and the shots of stores and restaurants she is standing near are not in the same parts of town. While Rachel is babbling on about the wonders of Hillsboro Village and its funky shops they show Elders Bookstore and Smack which are on Elliston and not in the Village. Rachel then launches into, deserved praise, of the Bongo Java empire and that local friends of hers recommended it as a place she definitely needed to check out. While she and the show are discussing and showing Hillsboro, she is ordering at Bongo Java on Belmont, not at Fido on 21st. Maybe that’s picky of me as Belmont isn’t that far from the Village proper but I do think of Elliston and Belmont as being distinct locations outside the Village. She also doesn’t even mention Belcourt Theater which is Village royalty. And that’s breakfast sorted for Rachel.
She begins touring downtown and chatting about hoofing it through the cities she visits, but fails to mention that most people who visit Nashville stay outside the city center losing an opportunity to tell them how they might get to the city center. Maybe that is not the purpose of this show, fine. She finds her way to the beautiful downtown library and chirps about its architecture and usefulness. She then stumbles into the Provence outpost there. She orders the very good roasted chicken salad with lavender sandwich and a Diet Coke. A Diet Coke? They have all sorts of alternatives to American soft drinks to have with your lavender infused sandwich. Blech. The thing that most irritates me about this whole thing? She completely ignores the fact that there is a Provence (that they did not show) across from the Pancake Pantry (that they did show) in Hillsboro Village.
Rachel continues her jaunt around downtown and goes to the Country Music Hall of Fame. On leaving said edifice, she says “Who knew that country music had so much history?” She did not just say that. I reviewed the scene again. Yes. Yes she did just say that. Either it came out of her mouth unbidden and the producer didn’t have any choice but to use that shot or the writer (if there was a writer) for this episode did zero research before banging out some semi-literate banter for Ray to spout on location.
While at the library, Rachel checked out a copy of the Nashville Scene and found out about F. Scott’s half price entrees after 9 PM. I can only say good things about F. Scott’s. Lots of fellow NSCC students have done internships with the chefs there and have had very good experiences. Rachel ordered sweet potato gnocchi with braised pork shoulder and a glass of wine. I don’t really have an issue with this segment except that she does that pronouncing Italian food words with an Italian accent thing and explaining what gnocchi are after showing the menu where it explains what they are as if I, and all other Food Network viewers, can’t read.
After her late supper, Rachel heads back downtown to the Broadway and Second Avenue tourist Mecca and accosts people on the street as to where she should experience the night life. She then heads to Legends and has a Honky Tonk Lemonade replete with Blue Curaçoa, which the bar tender can’t pronounce properly. She does however pour a strong one and Rachel sips the now neon green liquid through a straw. Poor thing, I’m surprised her eyes didn’t cross. Rachel wraps up the show and I slink off to the computer to bang out this rant.
If the purpose of the show is for Rachel to be toothy and cute and prove you can have three meals and a snack in any city for under $40, it succeeded. If the point of the show is to accurately portray the geography, culture and people of any given location, well, let’s just say I would give it D+. I know there exists an episode where Rachel goes to Chattanooga. I’m on the lookout and I’ll let you know how much eye rolling it induces.