I tuned into Rachel Ray’s TV show for about twenty minutes yesterday as I was doing the dishes. I’d never watched it before. She was giving cooking instructions to three sporty guys in the habit of gathering weekly to watch televised football games, usually eating only chips, dip, and carry-out pizza. Ray made them her version of a Philadelphia Cheesesteak sandwich (something I’d be too prim to prepare despite the fact it’s a meal Mr. Chattering would love). Then she prepared a large antipasto salad, tossing grocery store coldcuts, cheeses, pickled peppers, and vegetables into a large wooden bowl without any mention of nasty nitrates, insecticides, carcinogens, or wax coatings. Nah, food is fun to Rachel Ray. Nothing’s scary! Better to eat this, at any rate, than carry-out pizza (which she went out of her way not to criticize either).

Ray threw it all together with love, and that voluptuous, generous style of hers. As a result, at the Food Coop this morning I bought a heap of artichoke hearts, organic red peppers, cheeses, and AppleGate Farm cold cuts (they even have a Pepperoni now). Sure, it’s basically my own nitrate-free, organic version, but I never would have ventured in this direction had I not acquainted myself yesterday with Ray’s relaxed manner, and the notion hidden within the program–that every meal needn’t be backed by a research study. Since becoming a whole foods devotee, I admit to having cultivated a tendency to think more about health and food safety than how fun food can be to chop, taste, smell, and feel. Food should not be wrapped in worry!

Anyone else out there have this proclivity? Anybody else liberated by Rachel Ray? Let me know what food gurus inspire you most! Vegetarians, chime in. (Sorry about the cold cuts. They’re just an every-now-and-then thing.)

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