Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Tablescape

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American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, ...
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Me? I set the table. Kind of. Well, OK, knives and forks are provided. There are plates.

Others, I have just discovered, create ‘tablescapes’ and I have been found wanting. The woman responsible for both the neologism and the concept is the hugely popular American TV chef and author, Sandra Lee. A few minutes tracking down some of her clips on YouTube wouldn’t be wasted. (She said cryptically. I recommend the meat loaf. Not to actually eat.)

‘Tablescape’ describes the arty/crafty way Lee decorates her table to tie in with the theme of the meal she has prepared. Words like topography and curtains come to mind.

I think she may also be responsible for a new interpretation of the word ‘semi’. According to Wikipedia:

Sandra Lee is best-known for her “Semi-Homemade” cooking concept which involves 70% pre-packaged products with 30% fresh items.

Must go, I have a table to scape.

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Written by Wordwatch

04/08/2010 at 6:02 am

11 Responses

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  1. Lee, of course, like Dreadful Delia – the woman who, single-handedly, took all the joy and spontaneity out of cooking, reducing it to a set of rigid formulae – will have a whole team of behind-the-scenes helpers, all dedicated to making the viewer feel inadequate!

    And in DD’s case, doing the actual cooking.

    Ron

    04/08/2010 at 10:04 am

    • Hi, Ron — yes, who can forget the exhilaratingly entitled ‘Cooking for One’? I challenge anyone to come up with a more depressing title for a book about cooking than that. I’m not averse to a bit of culinary experimentation when on my own, but I’d probably start on the cooking sherry if faced with that. I don’t think Delia is a real person. Isn’t she a computer-generated chef with the permanent appearance of a 48-year-old aunt? Cardigans a gogo.

      Deborah

      04/08/2010 at 10:25 am

      • I think she’s a zombie. She certainly has all the requisite charm.

        Minimal cooking skills, too. On the few occasions I’ve seen her cook in real time, she’s failed miserably. And she has a habit of claiming dishes as hers. I once saw her making “my” lamb with white beans, a recipe that’s been in the traditional French canon since god was in short pants.

        And I find the claim that she’s “taught the nation to cook” staggering. She’s simply taught the inept to slavishly follow recipes.

        I’m making some rather nice rye sourdough bread later. DD would specify a precise amount of water, which is as wrong as it could possibly be.

        I work to a basic 60% hydration (for 500g flour that’s 300ml), but how much of that goes in depends on several factors, including how the flour behaves and how humid – or otherwise – it is. You can’t, as DD would do, simply toss in the whole amount – it would be a sticky disaster.

        Ron

        04/08/2010 at 10:49 am

        • Hi, Ron — I think you’d be a more interesting TV chef than Delia. And don’t get me started on Jamie Oliver.

          Deborah

          04/08/2010 at 12:25 pm

          • And who am I to argue!

            And don’t get me started on a “lug” of olive oil – the word is “glug” and is onomatopoeic.

            Ron

            04/08/2010 at 12:36 pm

            • He doesn’t prepare food: he massages it. Repulsive.

              Deborah

              04/08/2010 at 1:41 pm

              • This is my sourdough recipe – anyone can make the same bread easily http://ronsrantsbreadblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/real-time-sourdough/

                Just for interest – feel free to delete.

                Ron

                04/08/2010 at 3:22 pm

                • I’ve had it with sourdough – just too much hassle and too time-consuming. The recipe is easy, the time spent hanging around for the dough to prove is quite absurd.

                  Ron

                  04/08/2010 at 6:47 pm

                  • Oh dear. Does this mean you retract your recipe?

                    Deborah

                    04/08/2010 at 6:51 pm

                    • I’m in the process of modifying it – using the sourdough culture as a flavouring, and yeast as the leaven. It’ll taste pretty much the same, but I won’t grow old waiting for it! It’s easier, too, as the two days growing on the sourdough culture into a starter can be omitted.

                      The first one I made took about 8 hours for the final proving, and I really didn’t need to be baking at ten o’clock at night. Today’s was clearly set on the same course, so I shoved it in a cold oven, set at 200C, which should encourage it to rise if it’s going to, then cook it.

                      Ron

                      04/08/2010 at 6:58 pm

  2. I missed this:-

    “Sandra Lee is best-known for her “Semi-Homemade” cooking concept which involves 70% pre-packaged products with 30% fresh items.”

    A bit like our M&S dinner-party syndrome – which works fine until a guest finds the foil packaging in the bin! My erstwhile sister-in-law was very fond of that.

    Ron

    05/08/2010 at 7:39 am


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