Choux And Solidarity
September 20, 2019 9:41 AM   Subscribe

The Great British Bake Off isn't just wonderful entertainment. By prizing cooperation over cutthroat competition and solidarity over selfishness, it's also quietly radical. The Great Socialist Bake-Off (Jacobin)
posted by The Whelk (60 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
I understand what they're saying, and yet I keep running into the fact that there nevertheless is a competitive element to GBBO because there is a weekly elimination of a contestant and that there is an eventual winner.

Instead, then, I'd point to the collaboration and the helping-each-other-out elements of the show - which draw me in as well - to the fact that this isn't so much a demonstration of Socialism as it is a demonstration of Hufflepuffs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on September 20, 2019 [54 favorites]


See also Face Off, the SyFy effects makeup show, which has had the cooperation and kindness thing down for 13 seasons.
posted by Gaz Errant at 10:02 AM on September 20, 2019 [12 favorites]


> this isn't so much a demonstration of Socialism as it is a demonstration of Hufflepuffs.

bread for all, and badgers too
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:04 AM on September 20, 2019 [13 favorites]


...nevertheless is a competitive element to GBBO because there is a weekly elimination of a contestant and that there is an eventual winner.

Back in the mists of time, we called that Friendly Competition. It was quite the thing, the idea that you can compete with others and be civil, even helpful, friends, while competing. I believe it went extinct sometime during the Reagan years.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:04 AM on September 20, 2019 [35 favorites]


Yup re face off!

All the good reality tv shows prioritize excellence and remove backstabbing/manufactured drama: see (until recently) So You Think You Can Dance

People REALLY support each other, and criticism is relentlessly focussed on making everyone a better dancer.
posted by lalochezia at 10:05 AM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Have you guys seen The Chef's Line from Australia? Same mood: kind judges, collaborative contestants, and a lack of the usual dramatic/cruel/tense shenanigans. It is so nice! Nice things are nice. Check it out if you like GBBO; it's on US Netflix.
posted by youarenothere at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2019 [17 favorites]


TFA addresses the question of competition and winners at length.

In particular, it talks about how being a Star Baker doesn't confer real benefit, and when you win the whole award, basically all you get is a decorated cake stand. And how because of Mel and Sue, the show is structured so that contestants are trying to win the approval of the judges, rather than beating each other.

I don't necessarily agree with all of the analysis, but I think that if you did have baking competitions in fully-automated luxury space communism, it would look a heck of a lot like GBBO.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:13 AM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


The new version of the show features another Mary Berry (Prue Leith) and two new hosts. I hesitated to watch it, feeling almost like an anti-union scab betraying the radical vision of Mel and Sue. Thankfully, even if the new version can never fully shake off the stench of corporate greed enshrouding its rebirth, it still maintains the fundamental spirit of the original show.

I feel like this deserves a little more consideration than it is given in this article. Not only are the newer seasons less enjoyable than the ones with Mary and Mel and Sue, but everyone who watches the scabs replacement hosts fail to live up to the expectations of the first five seasons, is also watching the wheels of capitalism grind away at the livelihoods of the former hosts.
posted by Mayor West at 10:31 AM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


This premise would carry a lot more weight if every baker stayed on the show until the end, with winner decided on, say, an overall points basis.

In fact, what happens on the show is basically the essence of capitalism.

Fail to provide your deliverables in an acceptable time frame? You're out of the race.

Something outside of your control goes wrong? You're out.

Can't discern the unspoken guidelines of the competition? You're done.

An angry white guy holds your future in his hands? Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
posted by madajb at 10:43 AM on September 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


NY Mag just ran an article yesterday about the creeping importance of Paul's damn handshake, and that along with the baffling "make a fire and then try to cook some naan on it" stunt last season are making me worry about the show's future. The contestants are still top notch sweethearts, and I don't think I can bear another season where the producers make them cry with unnecessary stressors.
posted by queensissy at 10:44 AM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I really wish they could figure out an American version that's worth half a damn, but maybe this is why: the format is not built for Americans.
posted by Automocar at 10:57 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Australian version is maybe more cooperative than the original, it's remarkable to see all the contestants helping out.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:08 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I really wish they could figure out an American version that's worth half a damn, but maybe this is why: the format is not built for Americans.

I was just going to complain about not being able to see the last American iteration of this, but to my surprise there was a 2018 season that I never heard about. I do wish there was a way to see the season that got cancelled mid-way through because turns out Johnny Iuzunni is just as skeevy as he appeared to be.

I wish Netflix would just pick up all of the versions! Although when I "found" a couple episodes of the Irish version online, it was a little dispiriting to see how entirely white it was.
posted by suelac at 11:14 AM on September 20, 2019


I really wish they could figure out an American version that's worth half a damn

Nailed It?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:26 AM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


The American version has been entirely Christmas Holiday themed, and much shorter in season than the British one. I tried watching it once a couple years ago and found it awful.
posted by dnash at 11:27 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm finding the new hosts (especially this third season with Neal and Sandy) have a little more edge to their humor. Teasing Henry about how young he is and looks. I think someone said in Fan Fare he's going to need therapy after this. It could be the editing! It might be I'm very sensitive to teasing in general and at this moment!

Rewatching the fifth season (collection 1 on Netflix), Mary Berry has steel under that sweet smile. She's plain spoken about what doesn't meet her standards.
posted by JawnBigboote at 11:27 AM on September 20, 2019


I was gobsmacked when I learned that the GBBO winner gets, essentially, no prize. Really floored. But it's the one competition show I can stomach for exactly the reasons given here -- and especially Mel and Sue's insistence that the drama be kept to a minimum. It's peaceful and calm and kind and the goddamned Paul Hollywood Handshake makes me a little misty every time.

I've been watching the latest episodes with my five-year-old and she's interested in the decorative baking but, I think, most interested in the structure. Like, why are they showing this lady walking a dog, and then baking a cake? We had a discussion about how viewers might want to know more about the bakers.

I'm not sure she fully understands the point, but given her follow-up questions and subsequent analysis of the formula, I am confident that she could edit a reality show.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:29 AM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I miss Mary, but, whatever.

Seeing the bakers help each other, and how empathetic everyone is when people get sent off. So different in my mind from US cooking shows, which seem to lean heavily on the "took you out bro" interactions.
posted by Windopaene at 11:31 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ok, nailed it doesn't, but that's not the same.
posted by Windopaene at 11:33 AM on September 20, 2019


The more I learn about Sandi Toksvig, the less upset I am about Mel and Sue. And I liked Mel and Sue.

Talk about quietly radical.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:34 AM on September 20, 2019 [23 favorites]


Master Chef Junior gets pretty close to this vibe. Gordon Ramsey clearly likes kids and is really good with them, and the kids are supportive and kind to each other, and often times helpful when they can be (some of the structure of the show doesn't allow for it). It's still Master Chef, but it's much sweeter than the adult version.
posted by gc at 11:35 AM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Nailed It?

Ah, I forgot that I also love Nailed It. I still don't fully understand how it manages to be so kind while at the same time setting all of its contestants up for utter failure, but it's pretty consistent. It's got a lot of the "drama" that GBBO eschews, but it's mostly ersatz, because you know that everybody will fail in their own way, and even being least-bad along many axes doesn't guarantee winning.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:36 AM on September 20, 2019


Nailed It has a jolly feeling, but the incompetence of EVERYONE, LITERALLY EVERYONE is super-stressful to me. Like we watched a season, and I saw one competent person with basic baking knowledge?

Then again, the first episode of GBBO are usually my least favorite -- there's usually one person who is Not Up to Standard, and watching them bake is Nailed It level stressful for me.

My mojo is the middle three or four episodes, when the people who aren't quite good rigorous for the tent have gone, but we still have a broad range of delightful personalities and my usual POC faves gone-too-soon fighting the good fight against soggy bottoms and clagginess.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:59 AM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


I saw a bit of this watching Japanese game shows, too; when people failed, they laughed, and others laughed with them instead of at them.

I still remember watching one episode of one show that had Americans competing, and being struck by how ANGRY each one was when they failed, and everyone else looked uncomfortable.
posted by davejay at 12:03 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


The American version has been entirely Christmas Holiday themed, and much shorter in season than the British one. I tried watching it once a couple years ago and found it awful.

Only Season 4 is Christmas-themed; the others were more like the format of the regular GBBO. Looks like season 5 is also slated for December so may also be more holiday-y.
posted by mosst at 12:26 PM on September 20, 2019


I continue to believe that Joe Shmoe Season I is the only genuinely kind reality show the English speaking world has yet produced. It had many serious faults, but "contestants" and staff not trying to do well by each other genuinely wasn't among them. I'm far less convinced the crew of this production can be called fellow soldiers, based on seeing a hand full of episodes. I'm holding out for a vision of socialist television that doesn't leave me feeling bad for everyone involved at the end.
posted by eotvos at 12:28 PM on September 20, 2019


Hmm. With due respect, I feel like this article exemplifies the critique by lefter leftists that democratic socialist politics boil down to socialism is [whatever random thing that I like]. "People seem nicer on GBBO than other reality shows" would have been a perfectly fine article! Though I guess it likely wouldn't have gotten published on Jacobin.
posted by dusty potato at 12:33 PM on September 20, 2019 [10 favorites]


My favorite "baking show" these days is actually the Gourmet Makes youtube series from Bon Appétit. Claire Saffitz, a super talented pastry chef, attempts to make gourmet versions of junk food like Twinkies and Doritos and Pop Tarts. Like GBBO, the people on the show are just nice! She'll hit stuff that frustrates her and the other people in the kitchen will give her ideas or even sometimes just encouragement. It's a delight and it's fascinating to see her figure out how to reverse engineer candy and (usually) figure out how to do it even better.
posted by JDHarper at 12:45 PM on September 20, 2019 [9 favorites]


> a demonstration of Hufflepuffs.

also okay reaching back upthread here but also given how many harry potter kids go into activism it strikes me that “demonstration” might be a good collective noun for hufflepuffs.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:32 PM on September 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


About this:
Something outside of your control goes wrong? You're out.
I don't want to be spoilery, but in at least one instance something wild & totally outside the control of one of the bakers results in them having to start completely over very late in the competition (ie, when stakes are very high). The judges gave the baker additional time after the rest were made to stop to try to prevent the event from influencing the competition.

So there definitely ARE instances of flexibility here.

(Do not click my link if you haven't watched all the seasons.)
posted by uberchet at 1:44 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Oh, and to drive the point further home: during the same season, one baker is sick and sits out a week with no penalty.

So it's not quite as cut-throat capitalist as the post above would suggest.
posted by uberchet at 1:46 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I only know of this show because my daughter and granddaughter are big fans, and I think I've only seen shows from the most recent seasons.
I do find the show compelling, which is a surprise for me. I'm not a big Neal fan, but I like everyone else, including Paul, but especially the bakers.

... I keep running into the fact that there nevertheless is a competitive element to GBBO...
Yes, but the point is not that it's not competition, it's that it's not cutthroat. They help each other out, and are generally kind in a way that says 'I want to win, but I don't want to be an arsehole.'
Very refreshing in this day and age.
posted by MtDewd at 1:49 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I was gobsmacked when I learned that the GBBO winner gets, essentially, no prize

Do they no longer get the glass cake stand?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:50 PM on September 20, 2019


I don't watch this show, but I do recall once hearing either Mel or Sue (can't remember which it was) say that anytime one of the contestants got overwhelmed or stressed and started crying or having a breakdown, they'd go stand by him or her and start swearing like mad so it could never be filmed and broadcast, to let the person have A Moment in relative privacy. I thought that was really cool of them.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:50 PM on September 20, 2019 [22 favorites]


Something outside of your control goes wrong? You're out.

There's a lot more nuance than this, imo. As uberchet notes, they did in fact go above and beyond for a contestant once. Last season, one of the bakers was "feeling poorly" one week and they let him stay home and not be on that week and he came back the next week with no penalty. (These people GO HOME EVERY WEEK to live their regular-ass lives.)

And there's a lot of wiggle room in the "stuff going wrong" category. It depends on what kind of thing is going wrong. When it's hot during the week when everyone has to set chocolate, no one's chocolate really fully sets and everyone tends to get a bit of a pass on that element. But part of the challenge of the show is balancing what your own skills are and what the time given is with what you want to do. If your chocolate ain't set because you didn't leave yourself enough time to put it in the fridge long enough, that's on you because you know how much time you have and you get to pick your own recipe and you have to know enough about baking to know that your bake needs x minutes in the fridge, and the challenge is y minutes long and if those two variables don't add up, you need to go back to the drawing board.

They'd better not do any more stupid stunt challenges like that damn cooking over an open fire thing like last season, though. That was so dumb and everyone just abjectly failed because they are BAKERS, not Bear Grylls.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:53 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


They'd better not do any more stupid stunt challenges like that damn cooking over an open fire thing like last season, though. That was so dumb and everyone just abjectly failed because they are BAKERS, not Bear Grylls.

I think it could have been cool if 1. they'd done it earlier in the season and 2. they'd let the contestants make more of them and pick the best ones to present. But the way it actually happened was totally stupid.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:01 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


things I like are socialist and things I don't are neoliberal, and that's how I know cats, peanut butter, and GBBO enable the working class to break the bonds of capitalism, while giant squid, chihuahuas, and CSI: SVU are tools of neoliberal oligarchs bent on crushing us under their diamond-encrusted boots
posted by schroedinger at 2:04 PM on September 20, 2019 [19 favorites]


I feel like this article exemplifies the critique by lefter leftists that democratic socialist politics boil down to socialism is [whatever random thing that I like]

OTOH, the show is often about a collection of workers in (at least partial) solidarity against their boss.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


something i try to focus on when discussing the respective natures of capitalism and socialism-or-whatever is that capitalism isn’t about markets (although market exchange provides fertile ground for the development of capitalism) and it’s not about competition (although the idea of competition is used by capitalists as a fig leaf to justify their rule).

capitalism is about the private ownership of the means of production, and about those private individuals — capitalists — getting the right to make most of the decisions about what sorts of things we should all spend our time doing, and about who should get most of the things we make.

this frame allows us to maintain a tight focus on what capitalism does, who capitalists are, and why capitalism is a bad thing. abstract discussions of whether competition or whatever is good distract us from who capitalists are, what capitalists do, and why, precisely, capitalism is a bad thing.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:39 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Well if we can settle that definition can we also figure out what the hell the Brits call a pudding and why do they have four thousand varieties of it?
posted by The Whelk at 3:15 PM on September 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


If you don’t eat your meat, you’ll never find out.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:21 PM on September 20, 2019 [12 favorites]


Pudding is just the British word for dessert, and it is indeed true that there at least 4000 different ones in existence
posted by Automocar at 4:21 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I've been going back and watching earlier seasons recently (but not on an empty stomach, because boy, does that make me crave butter and sugar and white flour) and it just amazes me how nice it is. I'll be a ball of nerves for someone who's had everything go wrong that can. And then Mary will say, "Well, that's a bit underdone, isn't it?" And that's all! What kind of bizarre parallel universe is this show taped in, where people don't get verbally torn to shreds for every single simple mistake or piece of bad luck?!? Can I go there, and is there more cake?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:33 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Bakers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your buns!
posted by kirkaracha at 6:18 PM on September 20, 2019


We must own the means of bun production!
posted by The Whelk at 6:28 PM on September 20, 2019


Creme proletari-pat
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:06 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


'Reality shows, but nice' has kind of been a fixture of the genre for a while now. The mean judge fell out of fashion a decade ago, when we all worked out that the mean judge didn't have high standards, they were just the mean judge.

Part of the trend started with The Amazing Race, which didn't have judges at all, but generally the contestants who were unpleasant to everyone else weren't much fun to spend time with and usually didn't do that great - they'd make a mistake, and no-one would talk to them so they didn't notice.

Part of it was Project Runway, which contained the catty comments at the very end, and honestly if you're doing a fashion show you gotta have catty comments. But the bulk of the show was watching young professionals try and do something very hard in not much time, and Tim Gunn became the heart of that show as a mentor to the designers. It was a show that was in love with fashion, which meant it was in love with design, which meant it couldn't be too hard on its designers. People really responded to that - it was interesting watching something that felt less contrived than the catwalks, seeing the design process behind high fashion, and learning what people are actually judged on when it comes to fashion, and how often their reaction to a piece isn't too far removed from the layman's reaction.

And part of it was Masterchef Australia, an also-ran British reality format that was transformed by the Australian edition. Every Masterchef, other than the British version, is based on the Australia format. None of the professional chefs were interested in playing the mean judge, because, like with Project Runway, they wanted to celebrate food and cooking. It turns out watching talented people do something difficult but accessible under pressure is compelling enough on its own. (And yes, this means that Kids' Masterchef America is actually closer to the original format than Masterchef America, which put the mean judge back in.)

All three of these shows predate GBBO, which is itself in its 10th season this year. The takeaway isn't that "reality TV competitions can be nice, and therefore socialism", although it's perfect for Jacobin: Slate for Socialists. The takeaway is that if socialists want to make a more supportive and empathetic United States, it's going to take a lot more work than just getting some socialists in government.
posted by Merus at 7:13 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


An addendum: while none of the original Australian judges were interested in playing the mean chef on TV, the mean chef was George Calombaris. Maybe reality TV isn't a good model for socialism after all.
posted by Merus at 7:17 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Interesting. I always enjoyed the show because it was very conservative, about good-natured competition, rewarding those who have better skills, and celebrating classic values about not trying to tear people down.

Calling this "radical" or "socialist" is pretty... odd. Seems like good standard conservatism to me.

Bake Off is a celebration of the average worker, of the man or woman on the street.

Bingo -- blue dogs.

They are still just human beings trying to behave as human beings, not cogs in the capitalist machine.

There's this feeling of being "exploited" that just pervades all this socialist stuff that I just don't get. I think what needs to be fixed is properly called "corruption." Conservatism, and traditional values, tend to promote a higher moral standard for individuals that helps with this. Tocqueville recognized American democracy at least as being constrained from simple mob rule based on a pervasive religious underpinning -- hence why it seemed to work pretty well.

It turns out this is not accidental — breaking the vise grip of vindictive competition requires active, determined effort.

Something like this -- it's just that the vindictiveness and nonsense we see in television for riff-raff is simply what the conservatives or the religious folks would call "sinful." Don't do that, in other words.

Capitalism’s ideologues often extol the extraordinary individual. They insist that only by offering unlimited incentives to the most economically productive (the job creators, the entrepreneurs, the prodigies) can we maximize growth and thus have the most prosperous society. The outsize focus on the extraordinary individual is the backbone of reality television, too.

Yes to the individualism, when it's enterprising and helpful for everybody, no to the self-centeredness and poor values represented in the "reality show" world; the equivalent of tabloid sensationalism, gossip, and tribalist hubris.

There are no ninjas, only nurses or teachers or college students — people who struggle to find time to practice their baking because they are grading papers or working a second job to make ends meet.

Yes, sounds like hard-working people with good values, trying to create good things for the world, their friends, and family, through self-improvement and virtue.

Selasi, a semifinalist in the same season, explains: “Everyone is very, very friendly and helping each other, and it doesn’t actually feel like a competition. It ends up feeling like a group of friends, baking together in the same kitchen and just having fun.”

Yes, precisely -- friendly people with shared values getting along and enjoying good-natured competition. Exactly what the conservatives have always been talking about.

I dunno, I'm of the opinion that the Bake-Off (especially in its BBC era) was so popular because it addressed the silent majority of relatively centrist, conservative-leaning folks who celebrate family values, the difference between right and wrong, and essentially Doing The Right Thing. I see the show as being about as pro-conservative as can be.

If the socialist-leaning folks are really just striving for what I would call conservative values, then I think we may have some common ground from which to start working out differences in worldview. For that reason, this post makes me ridiculously optimistic.
posted by phenylphenol at 8:26 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yes, Masterchef Junior is a different flavor than the adult version - but my wife and I really, really, really hate the stupid gimmicks they use with variations on Nickolodeon sliming.

I would argue that Top Chef Jr. is even more about the community element. But Universal hides this show away on its lesser known kids channel, so even people who are Top Chef fanatics barely know that it exists. By the way - spoiler alert - the link takes you to a page that gives away the finalists for Season 2.
posted by jkosmicki at 2:42 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


I mean, maybe if you squint a bit, the technical challenge might be socialist, because all of the participants are given the resources they need to complete a called-for task to the best of their individual ability. That individual ability may vary from person to person, but they are all given an equal share in the resources they might need to complete it and an equal (albeit sparse and minimalist) set of instructions.

I will grant that I have only the most rudimentary understanding of Socialism, but I think that access to resources has as much impact on its success as do the attitudes of the participants towards competition.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 AM on September 21, 2019


Pudding is just the British word for dessert,

Well, it isn't just the word for dessert in British English - while that is one very common usage of it, pudding also refers to a type of steamed pastry dish (and a whole bunch of other things, but that's essentially always qualified - a Yorkshire pudding for example is not (necessarily/usually) a dessert, nor is it a steamed suet pastry, but it's also basically never just called a pudding, it's a Yorkshire pudding.)
posted by Dysk at 11:14 AM on September 21, 2019


And haggis is the "great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:17 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


If the socialist-leaning folks are really just striving for what I would call conservative values, then I think we may have some common ground from which to start working out differences in worldview. For that reason, this post makes me ridiculously optimistic.

Certain parts of the left and right are fundamentally in agreement about the failure of the (I'm gonna use the word!) neoliberal political order and its corrosive effect on the things that really matter in life. This critique seems to be ascendant on both sides of the political spectrum right now. But of course socialists identify these evils as rooted in political and economic arrangements, not cultural decline.

(This article is kind of silly but I don't think it's trying to be more than that.)
posted by atoxyl at 4:31 PM on September 21, 2019


On pudding: Automocar is correct that today it generally means "dessert," but Dysk is also right that it means a specific subset of foods whose most common shared characteristic is "something encased in something else and steamed or boiled."

"Pudding" comes (we think) from French boudin, which was a sausage that you had to eat fresh (because it was often made from offal); as opposed to a saucisse, which was smoked and would keep long-term.

So, a haggis is a pudding: minced offal boiled in a stomach casing. "Black pudding" is blood, fat and oats boiled in an intestine casing. What we would now call a sausage is a pudding: minced meat in a casing, boiled, fried or roasted. (You know the Blackadder joke about the word "sausage" not being in Johnson's dictionary? It's because the word in use at the time was pudding.)

In Merry Wives, Shakespeare has Mistress Page say about the corpulent Falstaff: "His guts are made of puddings." That is, his guts are stuffed intestines. There's also an early eighteenth-century pudding song where the pudding is a phallus, which definitely suggests a sausage-like shape. (Lyrics in this Mudcat thread if you scroll down a little.)

So eventually "pudding" also came to mean a boiled or steamed, or just generally soft, dessert. Spongey desserts like boiled baby and spotted dick used to be wrapped in cheesecloth to be boiled; later you would use a pudding bowl or basin covered with cheesecloth tied with string. Then there are the outliers: summer pudding, which isn't heated at all, and Yorkshire pudding, which is delicious but I honestly don't know how it landed in the pudding category. You'd have to ask a Yorkshireman, and you might or might not understand the answer.

(I bake a mean Yorkshire pudding and a fabulous bread-and-butter pudding, but have never dared ascend the summit of sticky toffee.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:16 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


... have never dared ascend the summit of sticky toffee

It sounds like you'd need special shoes.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:11 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


[A couple deleted. Since we have pretty much non-stop wide open discussions of the general nature and first principles of capitalism, socialism, and (neo)liberalism on the site, let's maybe try to stick to the Great British Bake Off framing of this article rather than a general YAY!/NAY! CAPITALISM/SOCIALISM retread. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:29 AM on September 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think GBBO would be more socialist if the first half of each season showed the GBBO school, where the pooled knowledge of the contestants was filed out so that an equal playing field in technique and presentation was achieved prior to the start of the competition.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


The more I learn about Sandi Toksvig, the less upset I am about Mel and Sue. And I liked Mel and Sue.

One can be both very upset about Mel and Sue AND love Sandi Toksvig. As one should.
posted by Glinn at 6:27 PM on September 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


'Reality shows, but nice' has kind of been a fixture of the genre for a while now. The mean judge fell out of fashion a decade ago, when we all worked out that the mean judge didn't have high standards, they were just the mean judge.

I think this is something to do with the US; taking one obvious example, when Gordon Ramsay went over to America his persona on American TV became almost a parody of his persona on British TV. Meanwhile we still have Simon Cowell (and are unimpressed by American knock-off versions) and Paul Hollywood, both of whom are harsh - but also are regularly encouraging and regularly bestow praise where it's due.
posted by Francis at 7:00 AM on September 23, 2019


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