What’s with all the ‘Hungry’ programmes at the moment? We’ve had The Hungry Sailors, Hugh’s Three Hungry Boys and now there’s The Very Hungry Frenchman (BBC2, 7pm, 7 Feb). What next? The Extremely Hungry Anorexic, featuring diet tips from Demi Moore (or Gimme Less as she shall henceforth be known)?
OK, that would be tasteless (which means it’s probably been considered). But slapping what seems to have replaced ‘super’ as the mot du jour in the title doesn’t do programmes any favours - especially as, like its Hungry predecessors, The Very Hungry Frenchman is another slice of quality food TV.
In the first episode, Raymond Blanc - the hungry Frenchman in question - headed home to Franche-Comté to discover more about his culinary heritage, visit the people who inspired him (including feisty 89-year-old Maman Blanc) and cook for his family, friends and local gastronomes. Much was made of the fact that he hadn’t cooked in France before, which was not likely to be a major ask for a two-Michelin starred chef. But if you like Raymond Blanc and/or French food, there was plenty to enjoy as he pootled around in his ancient Citroën visiting “cathedrals” to regional specialities such as Comté cheese and Saucisse de Morteau and tried to convey to viewers the concept of terroir.
He also seemed genuinely anxious to impress his diners with his regionally inspired Comté cheese soufflé tart, braised rabbit with mustard, and giboulet of cherries. Which of course he did. Shame there’s no way you’d attempt to cook any of it yourself!