Image By: Elin B
Very rarely is the food on Come Dine With Me the standard of Masterchef, although it is of course hilarious when the chef in question sincerely believes that they are a true contender for this title, whilst serving some diced potato, a bit of dry chicken with a dollop of pesto to accompany it.
But it is a great insight into the modern manners of Britain as a whole and compares people’s differing views on what really is the height of sophistication.
The main ingredients of any great dinner party seems to be personality, the setting, cleanliness, entertainment, manners and of course lighting, all of which can have more of an effect than the food.
All together now
It is great to see who they select for Come Dine With Me; the different ages, races and social classes, make an intimate dinner so much more entertaining compared to picking four or five people of the same ilk to eat together.
It differs from Big Brother, as hardly anyone is a multi-gender dwarf or an attention seeking harlot with no clothes on; well…very rarely anyway! They are just ordinary people.
I loved the episode when a real stuck-in-the-mud middle aged man claimed to “hate” curry and was hauled kicking and screaming to the house of an Indian lady who presented him a feast of different spicy dishes.
Despite being determined to have a rotten time, in a couple of hours, his mindset had totally changed, he even asked for cooking tips! He has now become a convert after perhaps 45 years of avoiding the spicy stuff!
Flash versus trash
Nosing around anyone’s house is always a bit of a treat and on Come Dine With Me, this is a regular occurrence. It makes you wonder though if you would do the same thing…I know I would!
People from housing estates end up having dinner in stately homes; old ladies from the posh part of town end up in the mirrored, gadget packed city apartments of the uber trendy young professional; and well-heeled doctors eat at the hastily hobbled together table in the bachelor pad of a second year drama student.
Seeing how everyone deals with these situations is all part of the fun.
You have your professional housewife who knows the importance of freshly cut flowers, with an immaculately turned out table, lined with real linen napkins and the best silver.
And on the other end of the scale, you’ve got your flash Harry type, with his overpriced wine and expensive nosh, ostentatiously leaving his Porsche in the driveway for all to see. He also demands that everyone brings their swimwear so they can all leap into his hot tub for pudding.
Let me entertain you
Entertainment is also one of the things that make a mere dinner a real occasion. On Come Dine With Me is not unusual to see Older men revealing their penchant for cross dressing and come downstairs after dinner dressed as a woman, bursting into song whilst sliding down the banister.
Some women wheel out their embarrassed daughter/son/nephew, who they think is the next Bob Dylan, and clap along enthusiastically while the other guests cringe.
One dedicated dog owner had people lying out in the back garden, while the dogs jumped over them, leaping through rings of fire.
Nipple tassels have featured on more than one occasion, and the Samba/Latino/African dance nights have even become a little passé. You must try harder to impress on Come Dine With Me!
The Proof is in the Pudding
But despite all these frivolities and extras, what it all comes down to is the food and that’s what I really love about this programme. Anything can go wrong! The potatoes can be burnt and the fish can be raw. The blender might not work, or the sauce can be too runny.
The domestic goddess serves up a Beef Wellington with the texture of an old boot, while the foreign student in the shared house, cooking in a kitchen with stains on the ceiling, serves up a delightful mushroom soufflé followed by roast duck that falls off the bone with a homemade plum sauce; taking home the £1000 prize money!
If you’ve ever thought of applying to appear on Come Dine With me, or if you’ve been a contestant, do let me know, I’d love to hear your story!
Kate Dawson is an appreciator of fine food and even nicer wines. She currently blogs for Optegra. A simple cataract operation with their Clarivu Total Vision Correction procedure now also offers lens replacement surgery, especially to those over 50 with long or short sightedness.