I'm not normally a huge fan of TV shows about food. OK, scratch that. I'm not normally a fan of TV shows about preparing food. I have the culinary skills of a toddler, mixed with the sophisticated palate of your common-or-garden wildebeest.
In short, I don't think I'm going to be earning a Michelin star any day soon, unless they're looking for food that genuinely does taste like a set of part-worn tyres.
For these reasons, I find cookery shows a little frustrating. Sure, it all looks great, but I just know if I tried any of the recipes it would just look like a bunch of random smoking organic matter on a plate. So as far as the shows go, there's not much that I can relate to on-screen. Unless Nigella Lawson's involved, of course, but that's a subject for another post completely.
However, there is a food show I can get into. Man v. Food charts the progress of a chap called Adam as he travels around the States, attempting various eating challenges. A 72-ounce steak here, a six-pound burrito there, perhaps some ribs smothered in the world's hottest chili sauce for good measure. How he's not the size of a house is anyone's guess. We should probably draw a modest veil over what Adam has to go through in the morning after each challenge, and be thankful cameras aren't involved.
It's really just a show about eating. This is my area of expertise, I'm on home territory here. Normally I just gaze in wonder as, python like, he devours another meal bigger than his head. The word 'behemoth' gets used an awful lot. But when they had him eating a stacked burger, I looked at it and said, "You know, I reckon I could manage that one." Katie doubted me. We may have had words.
Several days later it was announced that home-made burger was on the menu for dinner. I really should have seen the warning signs.
They were half-pounders, she said, made with lean beef mince together with a little blue Stilton crumbled into the mix. But if the burger that came to me, laden with onions, mushrooms and, yes, more cheese, was a mere half-a-pound, then I'm Slimmer of the Year. If this had been 1983, Charles and Diana would have been skiing down its southern face. It was sandwiched between two floury buns, each roughly the size of a scatter cushion. There was a side of fries, some coleslaw and a couple of pickles. All we needed was some scarily-attentive customer service to make the whole thing authentically American. The challenge was clear.
I set about the food in front of me. The burger looked impressive, although I had to cut it in half to get any purchase on it. It was delicious, the melted cheese and meat juices combining in a way that would strike horror into the heart of any passing dietitian, whilst forever condemning yet another of my t-shirts to the second division. I have previous form in this respect.
I made good progress at first, even diverting to have a couple of fries and a bite of pickle. Looking back on this now, I can see that was a schoolboy error. Eventually my stomach began to signal some distress as it noted the simultaneous arrival of a herd of steer.
The meat sweats were upon me.
"You don't have to eat it all, you know," Katie said, peering at me over the remains of her suspiciously-smaller-looking burger. "But it's sooo good..." I whined, my voice trailing off as another crumb of Stilton hit the spot. You have to remember, I was brought up by parents who'd gone through post-War rationing. These messages were rammed into me as a child. Always clear your plate. Even if you're no longer hungry. Don't leave anything behind, or else you might as well surrender to that nasty Mr Hitler. I never quite understood that reference in 1976.
Marathon runners talk about 'the wall', a mythical barrier that drains all energy and motivation. I faced my meaty wall and dug deep. Each mouthful was a personal challenge. No mere burger was going to be my nemesis!
Eventually I cleared my plate, whimpering softly. "I've done it," I croaked. "In this battle of Man v. Burger, Man won!"
Katie smiled sweetly. "You do realise that the one you saw on telly the other night consisted of six of those?"
Oh bugger. Excuse me while I go and digest somewhere.