*Critics’ Corner: Yum-O Gal, You’re No Fannie Farmer, or Julia Child, for That Matter

Rachael Ray and Nutrish customers (Used with permission.)

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” C. C. Colton said in 1828 in The Lacon: or, Many Things in a Few Words; Addressed to Those Who Think.

But what about parody, rife with derision?

On September 3, Elizabeth Hilts, author of Getting in Touch with Your Inner Bitch, releases her big bad bash of Ray: Every Freaking! Day with Rachell Ray, a parody of Rachael’s magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Not bad for a woman who can’t cook. At least that’s the consensus of her most dedicated anti-fans, the Rachael Ray Sucks Community.  Here’s what they say about the Yum-O gal in their ABOUT section:

This community was created for people that hate the untalented twit known as Rachael Ray.

Rachael Ray is annoying for many reasons but here are a few: she is repetitive, she talks with her hands way too much, she giggles incessantly, she puts olive oil and chicken stock in everything, she wears really ugly clothing, she talks out of one side of her mouth like she’s had a stroke, she looks like “The Joker” when she smiles, and she can’t stop talking about her family.

But what is not overtly apparent to her ardent bashers is this: Rachael Ray’s four Food Network shows play right into our basic and primitive urges. She meets the paramount needs delineated in the very first level of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts.

Even dogs get their due.

One of her latest endeavors is a line of dog food—Nutrish.  She devoted a Food Network episode to dog food, cooking up “Power Pooch Smoothies” and “Mini-Muttballs and Ditalini” …

Except maybe for the dog food, Ray’s culinary creations reflect no great culinary genius. Her official Website sparkles with migraine-inducing busyness and odd spellings of food and ingredients.

But she’s rich in spite of all that. Last year, Ray climbed into the rank of multi-millionairess. She cleared a whopping $18 million dollars, according to a report by Forbes magazine.

Will Rachael Ray’s current, skyrocketing popularity propel her into the pantheon of culinary history?


Fannie Merritt Farmer
Fannie Merritt Farmer

In the future, say 100 years from now (assuming there’s still a planet Earth), Ray’s books might merit a footnote in the musings of culinary historians flabbergasted by the Food Network craze in a nation of non-cooks verging on a 35% obesity rate. Fannie Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book and all Julia Child’s books will still provide research material. You see, both Farmer and Child blazed new paths in the culinary world, Farmer with her strict adherence to measurements in recipes and Child with her meticulous research. Ray’s books don’t do anything like that.

Sorry, Yum-O gal, you’re no Fannie Farmer, or Julia Child. But we’ll look forward to your tear-jerker memoir, rumored to be tentatively titled, EVOhNo

*Critic’s Corner: A Weekly Whirl Round the Food News of the Times: It’s in the News, Yeah, But Will it Make the Culinary History Books? These short, pithy pieces examine what’s bubbling out there and stirs the pot to get to the bottom. What cooks up could be scorching or soothing.

© 2008 C. Bertelsen