As a vegetarian, I don't get too worked up about Thanksgiving. The turkey and its juices find their way into the potatoes, stuffing, and gravy and then I'm left snacking on my homemade tofu loaf and cranberry relish. One year I foolishly ate some stuffing to placate my friend's mom and let's just say my body was very unhappy for the next 36 hours.
Still, I was looking forward to the Food Network All Star Thanksgiving Special. The previews made it look like Rachael, Emeril, Alton, Sara, Tyler, Paula and Giada were going to do a lot of sitting around and eating. 90% of the show featured the cooks in their usual kitchens and only in the last few minutes did the Food Network stars come together. The only memorable dishes were Tyler's nasty looking sausage-artichoke concoction ("I got this recipe on my latest trip to Italy," he said.), Sara's gorgeous apple tart, and Emeril's Red Rooster drinks. All in all, the show was a real snoozer, with one exception.
That exception is Alton Brown. I have a bunch of favorite Food Network hosts, including Paula Deen, Michael Chiarello, and Ina Garten. They are congenial, competent and cook yummy food. But seeing Alton's turkey segment follow everyone else's, when it comes to charisma, innovation, information and overall watchability, no one even comes close to matching Alton Brown. Good Eats isn't fluff, it's where science meets entertainment. Alton's expressiveness and comic timing match that of the best comedians, while his knack for explaining complex concepts rivals that of Bill Nye and Mr. Wizard. I'm glad Alton carved the turkey and sat at the head of the table, because he is clearly the alpha male of the Food Network clan.
I love Good Eats. My favorite episode is his Down and Out in Paradise special, where he is stranded on the remote island of Oahu, and according to this FAQ it is the most fun Alton has had as a filmmaker (does that include School Daze?). I don't really remember much of the science from the show, which is why his book I'm Just Here for the Food is so valuable. Seriously, if you're only going to buy one cookbook this year, get this one. It's entertaining and a great resource.
Alton used to have a blog but he's revising that portion of his site due to harassment by 'net idiots*. I honestly can't imagine anyone not liking Alton Brown. Even people who don't like Food Network have good things to say about him.
Want more Alton Brown? Check out the Good Eats Fan Page (it's kind of hard to navigate, but the whole site is filled with good Alton info, so click away!).
A couple Alton quotes from the Thanksgiving special:
"I picked this up on a trip to south Georgia." - to Tyler, who has reminded us 8 times that his gross artichoke dish was picked up on a trip to Italy.
"You need it!" - while placing an entire turkey breast on tiny Giada's plate.
I'm surprised Sandra and Ina weren't part of the Thanksgiving dinner. I have a feeling, though, that if Alton and Sandra were in the same room, the universe might implode.