Jamie's American Road Trip: Los Angeles Episode [video]
Last night Channel 4 in the UK aired the premiere episode of Jamie's American Road Trip — the series opener was set in Los Angeles, focusing on the Mexican-American culture and cuisine.
Avoiding glitz and glamor, Oliver doesn't stay in a fancy hotel or eat at four-star restaurants, but instead rents an apartment in East LA's Mexican neighborhood. Food and family are central part of the culture: He goes to a birthday party, checks out Homeboy Industries, the organization that works with former gang members that operates a bakery and a Mexican café, and attends a funeral celebration with ex-gang members. He goes fishing at Redondo Beach, pays a visit to the Alameda Swap Meet, and finally, prepares the food at a baptism celebration.
It's an effective and poignant portrayal of Mexican-American culture in Los Angeles, interspersed with Oliver's social commentary and pontificating. But bizarrely, Jamie Oliver doesn't do a lot of eating; No Reservations this is not. Except for a couple of all-too-short instances, you never get to see experts prepare the food. Instead, he does most of the cooking, solo. Clearly it's his own interpretations of Mexican cuisine, but we barely see where the inspiration is coming from.
Conveniently, said interpretations and recipes are of course available in his cookbook, Jamie's America — which is fine, he's exposing new and different cuisines to an audience that wouldn't even know where to begin. But perhaps Jamie Explores America and Then Cooks Food might have been a better title. Regardless, it's a good show, and we'll keep watching.
Here are a couple of videos from the show: the intro and Jamie at the birthday party, helping make gorditas and then dancing, showing moves a lot less refined than when he dressed up as the Village People and busted a move.
Video: Intro to Jamie's American Road Trip
Video: Birthday Party