Josh Ozersky, who writes the Taste of America column over at Time.com, recently wrote a post entitled “Why The Martha Stewart Show Had to Go,” regarding the Hallmark Channel’s decision to cancel Stewart’s show after seven years on the air.
But as America gets poorer, and even the cramped kitchens and half-full refrigerators begin to look like less of a guarantee, maybe the Martha Stewart lifestyle seems less like an aspiration and more like a cruel mockery.
I, quite frankly, think we need that kind of aspiration. I can’t afford a Stewart kitchen, decked out and impeccably designed, but I can certainly acquire tools that will make my cooking projects a little bit easier, and I can aspire to be an expert in my field, even if that’s cooking at home with low-cost ingredients.
Ozersky goes on to say that if forced to choose chef role model between Martha and Rachael Ray, he’d choose the latter.
I aspire personally to cook like Ray — fast and intuitively with stuff I actually have in the house; but I wish I could do the grand old recipes, the poached halibut and foie gras terrine, as well as Stewart does. In fact, I couldn’t see myself doing it at all. Her baking seemed especially terrifying to me. I live in an apartment; my table is filled with unpaid bills, take-out menus and cigarette papers. Where am I going to start putting mixing bowls?
This characterization is unfair. In addition to foie grass terrine and poached halibut, Martha Stewart’s magazine and website feature recipes for meatloaf, red velvet cake, and sloppy joes. I’m pretty sure that none of those things are the fancy-schmancy, time-intensive recipes Ozersky insinuates make up the bulk of Stewart’s offerings, and which is not to mention either that Ozersky’s unpaid bills, take-out menus, and cigarette papers have less to do with Martha Stewart’s relevancy and more with his unkempt house.
The assertion that Stewart is only relevant to older women, rich women, or skilled chefs is patently untrue. I’m 26 and find Martha’s recipes far more useful than most television cooks’ as I begin to learn the difference between a roux and a roulade, saffron from sage. I guarantee you that Rachael Ray isn’t going to teach you that and she’ll annoy you with the repetition of juvenile words like “yumm-o” and “EVOO” in the process.