I resisted for a long time, but now I freely admit to enjoying Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I still can’t stand Guy Fieri, his overuse of stupid phrases, his flip-flop jokes and the constant trips back to the mid-90s. The endless shots of too much are often too much, but I can’t stop. It’s become a guilty pleasure. Too much butter, too much cheese, too much meat. A double bacon cheeseburger contained within two grilled cheese sandwiches? I’m sure that’s been featured on at least three episodes. I’m all for supporting the small and local and enjoy that the show focuses on that. But the American excess steals the show. Is it the post-recession moment that causes us to turn to such TV trash? The mountains of meat and cheese and fries and BBQ that can all be had for only $4.99?
While I may view it as the Food Network equivalent of reading tabloid magazines, my eyes feasted on the Christmas marathon. Visual indigestion led to inspiration. A cilantro-jalapeno pesto from a tailgating episode. Because I was going to be putting it on a sandwich with cheese, I ended up making more of a Provençal pistou — a loose pesto without cheese and pine nuts. As the flavours I wanted were present, I didn’t mind the lack of body. Matched with pickled onions, roasted red peppers, provolone, fresh ciabatta and roasted chicken, it made my first round of leftovers totally… money.
Dining companion: Misfits (A good chunk of my holidays were spent watching the first two seasons of this British series.)
2 handfuls of cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, sliced (remove seeds and ribs if you want less heat)
1 clove of garlic
a few tablespoons of olive oil
In either a food processor or with a mortar and pestle, crush the cilantro, jalapeno and garlic together. Slowly add the oil until it all comes together. Continue adding oil until you reach a pesto-like consistency. You can also make it thicker or thinner with less or more oil. Cover remaining with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Quick pickled onions
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup white sugar
Stir sugar in vinegar until it dissolves. Add onions, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 2 hours. They will keep for a few days.