Jewish Brooklynite and TV foodie, Adam Richman of “Man v. Food” may need to find a new network. His new show, Man Finds Food, was supposed to start July 2, but has since been indefinitely postponed by the Travel Channel in the wake of an instragram controversy over body image.
Earlier this month, Richman lost 70 lbs after struggling with his weight since the start of Man v. Food, and posed for Cosmopolitan UK. June 20th, he posted a picture on Instagram of himself in a pair of ill-fitting suit pants with the caption, “Had ordered this suit from a Saville Row tailor over a year ago. Think I’m gonna need to take it in a little… #thinspiration.”
The post has since been deleted, but not before the critical comments began. Here’s a screenshot, courtesy of Grubstreet:
Fellow Instagrammers quickly noted that “thinspiration” also was the favored hashtag on po-anorexia blogs and by others proud of eating disorders.
In response to the negative comments, Richman lashed back. “Grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you,” he told one commentator.
To another, he said, “Give me a f—king break. If anyone acts like a c—t I’ll call them one. It’s not misogyny, it’s calling a spade a spade… If my use of the hashtag offended you, it was unintentional & for that I’m sorry.”
Later that day, he responded via Twitter, “Yes. I’ve responded to the internet hate recently with vile words directed at those hating me. I am sorry, I should know better & will do better.”
This tweet was later deleted, but Richman later said in a written apology on Good Morning America, “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight. I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”
So far, there is no premiere date for “Man Finds Food.”
In this two-part series Eitan Kensky takes a sharp look at food travel shows and the evolution of Adam Richman’s popular show “Man vs. Food.” Read Part 1 here.
One of the most striking elements of “Man vs. Food” was the way it flattened all ethnicities into generic American challenges. The idea of de-emphasizing difference made it rare, if not unique among food shows. Both of Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern’s shows were built around the idea of eating local and indigenous cuisines that most American’s find disgusting, such as unborn chicken eggs, squirrel and calf (testicles) — especially when the exotic locations Zimmern traveled to were in America, like the Gulf Coast, or the immigrant neighborhoods of New York and Los Angeles. “Man vs. Food,” however, didn’t exoticize ethnic foods or treat them as an other to be discovered; rather ethnic restaurants were just another way to experience over-sized, over-seasoned, or over-spiced American portions.
This approach was especially prominent during the first season when Richman visited Katz’s Deli in New York. The show went out of its way to not make reference to Katz’s Jewish origins. None of the patrons interviewed appeared to be Jewish and Richman treated Katz’s only as a general New York institution that serves very meaty sandwiches. There were, it’s true, a few codes for Jewishness in the presentation. Richman’s mother came to share the food with him, and he referred to her as the person who first introduced him to Deli, but he left out why she introduced him to it in the first place. His mother worried that his upcoming challenge would be “unhealthy,” making shtick out of the stereotype of the over-protective Jewish mother, but it backfires. Given the toxic spiciness of the food Richman is going to ingest later that night, the Brick Lane Curry House’s spicy p’haal, allegedly the world’s hottest curry, she isn’t so much the over-protective Jewish mother as the voice of reason. Nonetheless, it was striking that a 21st century food show didn’t mention that Deli is a Jewish food par excellence, and Richman’s mother presumably took him to delis as part of his heritage.
In this two-part series Eitan Kensky takes a sharp look at food travel shows and the evolution of Adam Richman’s popular show “Man vs. Food.”
Travel food shows are mysteries with the host as detective. Our host takes us to a dark, unknown corner of the globe to try to discover something new and ostensibly worth eating. Rather than a crime, the emphasis is on the uncovering of the meal, and the moment of truth: was it as delicious as rumored? The host’s smile, mouth covering (with a napkin or with an open palm) and immediate urge to take another bite let us know for sure. Case closed.
These shows are also mysteries on another level: what is the best way to translate the experience of eating to a visual medium where the viewer can never taste the food? The similarities between the filmic techniques of cooking shows and those of pornography are now well-established. Cue the right music and camera angles and we’ll lust for anything, no matter how unappetizing it may otherwise be. The recent documentary “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress” took a different approach, going, not always successfully, for food as magic. In comes sweet potatoes, and out, after unexplained alchemy, comes something previously unimaginable. The problem with the “Cooking in Progress” approach is that food and cooking is the opposite of alchemy. Half the fun of molecular gastronomy is learning about the processes that transform food, which the film elides to preserve our wonder at the final dish.