By Dick Platt
Corsicana Daily Sun
The Good Wife (no longer The Little Woman) and I spent another exciting night curled up in front of our big screen watching three solid hours of 30-minute episodes of “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” Because there is nothing else of interest to us, it fills the void each Friday night until “Blue Bloods” comes on at 10 p.m. “Blue Bloods” is TGW’s absolute favorite program. It seems she and her late sister, Ce-Ce, have been in love with Tom Selleck for about 30 years — all the way back to “Magnum P.I.”
I guess it is possible there are some of you out there in newspaper-land who are not familiar with “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” also know as “Triple D,” so I feel a need to describe the program to you. It is kind of a reality show where the host, one Guy Fieri, travels all over North America, Alaska, and Hawaii to showcase different regional, ethnic, and inventive culinary specialties. All of the Triple D establishments are privately owned and they truly range from large restaurants to diners to drive-throughs to absolute dives. In Guy’s immortal words, “If it’s funky, we’ll find it!”
The show always opens with Guy at the wheel of a bright-red, old-timey Camaro convertible and he is “...rolling out...” to find those off-the-wall food emporiums that are often suggested by his viewers. Even though Fieri has a collection of classic American cars, it is my contention that the Camaro is a prop and travels around the country on a flat-bed truck and Guy gets in it at each location and drives up and parks in front of the joint. He always points up at the establishment’s sign as the introduction to the current stop.
Right here in Sarasota there is a joint called “The Alpine Steakhouse” that was featured on Triple D several years ago and they still proudly display a sign that says it is the home of the “Turducken” as featured on the Food Network. The “turducken” is a Thanksgiving specialty first introduced to America by NFL broadcaster John Madden on CBS and FOX networks. It basically is a stuffed chicken, inside a duck, inside a turkey which is then roasted. Although it is still a big hit around here, our son tried it one year and panned it.
Guy Fieri started out from very humble beginnings in the food business by selling pretzels as a teen-ager off his “Awesome Pretzel” cart in Ferndale, Calif. He kicked around at odd jobs, studied cuisine in France, worked in hotels and restaurants, and eventually founded several restaurants of his own. In 2006, he won the “Next Food Network Star” and has been a mainstay of that network ever since.
In 2010, the Food Network dubbed Fieri the “Face of the Network,” and the New York Times went so far as to say he brought an “...element of rowdy, mass-market culture to American food television...his prime-time shows attract more male viewers than any other on the network.”
The “Face of the Network” is a piece of work to say the least. Picture this: he has teased-up, spikey, bleach-blond hair; he has a plethora of tattoos and silver and turquoise bling; and he wears gaudy Hawaiian shirts, baggy cargo shorts, and flip-flops. His raspy voice can really be annoying but, apparently, it is part of his appeal — it’s kind of a cross between “Rochester” and Rod Stewart (same hair-do). As you might imagine, he has quite a sense of humor and he can be quite entertaining when he cuts up with the folks he is visiting.
To say that the range of cuisine covered in Triple D is eclectic, is to grossly understate the show’s diversity. Here is just a partial list of menu items reviewed on Friday’s shows: Victor’s 1959 Cafe - Picadillo and Creole Sauce; Roasted Pork Belly with Warm Potatoes; Mom’s Sloppy Joe; Crab Burgers with Tiger Slaw; Seared Scallops with Lobster Brandy Sauce (yummoo).
And the list goes on: Moroccan Beef Kebobs with Curried Couscous; Buckwheat Waffles; Hawaiian Style Beef Short Ribs; Lamb Burgers with Greek Yogurt Sauce; Papa Relleno con Salsa Ranchero; and Chipped Beef on Toast (in the service we called this S.O.S.).
Guy has popularized his own growing set of vernacularisms (another word for Ron to look up) through Triple D. If he is really impressed with a food wagon’s fish taco, he might say, “It’s the bomb!” If he is in a Texas gas station/car wash-turned diner, cramming in a triple-decker bacon cheeseburger with onion rings on top, he might say, “That is off the hook!” My favorite is when he might be sampling a huge seafood platter in a joint on the coast of Maine and he shouts, “Shut the front door!”
At the end of each program, we see Guy tooling down the street or highway in his classic flaming red Camaro promising to be back next time with more interesting “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” At the end of this rant, picture me tooling down Central Sarasota Parkway in my classic 2001 Toyota Avalon promising to be back next week with more trash.
Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org