I’m a big fan of food.
I wish I was the type of person who saw food simply as fuel for the body; that would make my life a lot easier. But I see food as something more than a vehicle for nutrients. I see it as something to be savored and enjoyed for its own sake.
This is not to say that I am a foodie in the traditional sense. My tastes do not run that highbrow. While I can appreciate a gourmet meal that is intricately prepared with exotic and expensive ingredients, that would not be my last meal selection. I’m a cheeseburger and wings kind of girl; I crave foods that taste good but aren’t necessarily all that sophisticated. If given a choice, nine times out of ten I’d prefer to eat at a diner with comfort food than a five star steakhouse. I especially enjoy creative combinations of foods. I can say with absolute certainty that I will try the new bacon sundae at Burger King. I’ve eaten a hamburger with peanut butter (surprisingly good). My co-workers love to regale people with the tale of the day I tried the double down at KFC (it did not end well). I love me some chicken and waffles.Thankfully I also really enjoy blueberries, strawberries, carrots, hummus, salads, etc. or I would be in a lot of trouble. Moderation is key.
As someone with a healthy appetite, but not necessarily an appetite for the healthy, I was drawn to Man v. Food on the Travel Channel. I enjoyed Adam Richman’s culinary tour of the United States; I was less interested in the food challenges that capped each episode than the local restaurant and food recommendations that he did for each city/area featured. Richman is pretty personable and likeable which adds to the enjoyment of the show. He seems to really enjoy interacting with all the different people that he meets. When I travel to a city where he has been, I always look up the different locals he visited in hopes of checking them out myself. Unfortunately, most of the people I’m visiting or traveling with have not been so game to partake in the gastronomic adventure, so I’ve only actually made in to one place he’s been (Red Mill Burgers in Seattle – very yummy). I was particularly excited when Man v. Food Nation (the newest incarnation of the show where a different individual does the food challenge every week) was slated to come to Albany in the 2012 season, but since the show is apparently cancelled it looks like that isn’t going to materialize. Bummer.
Adam Richman is now back with a new show on the Travel Channel that probably won’t be such a burden on his health and his waistline: Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America. The show is similar to March Madness – the country is divided into 10 regions and three sandwiches compete per region for the title of best sandwich. Since I like Richman and I like sandwiches, I decided to tune in.
I have to say, I was disappointed in the show. The biggest problem is that this show is basically Man v Food redux in that most of the sandwiches that are part of the competition were already featured on previous episodes of MvF. One the first episode of the new show, all three sandwiches were repeats. Not every episode is like this – some shows feature up to two new places – but it is enough of a rehash that it isn’t bringing much of anything new to the table. I’m almost positive that the lady at Skipper’s Smokehouse is even wearing the same shirt she wore in the Man v. Food episode the restaurant was featured on. You can’t just repackage the same info and sell it as a new show. I can just re-watch old episodes of Man v. Food and get the same information. It just isn’t enough new material to keep me tuning in. The repetition factor is only going to get worse once all the regional winners have been selected; if I already sat through an episode where each of the winners was chosen, I’m not going to want to sit through the same thing only a few weeks later when the regional winners go head to head. Unlike March Madness games, where there are many variables at play in the match ups, there isn’t much that can change. A po’ boy sandwich from Zunzi’s in New Orleans is going to be made the same way every time; there is no possibility for anything unexpected. The whole concept is kind of played out by the first round.
My other issues with the show are minor by comparison. Though they try to articulate the criteria by which Richman is judging the sandwiches, in the few episodes I’ve seen I don’t know that it is always clear as to why a sandwich beats another sandwich. The graphics for the show are kind of laughable and the fake computer voice used reminds me of something you would see on RuPaul’s Drag U. And sandwiches, it turns out, aren’t all that exciting, even removing the duplication factor. We already know he likes all the sandwiches; it might be more interesting if he didn’t.
So while I wish Richman well in all his future endeavors, I don’t think this is a show that I’ll be tuning in to with any regularity. If I stumble across it and nothing else is on, I’ll watch it. But it isn’t something that I’ll seek out. Now excuse me while I find a deep fried oreo.
Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America airs 9 pm (ET) on Wednesdays on the Travel Channel.