Jamie’s American Road Trip

Tuesday, October 6 on 4

The final stop on Jamie’s tour is a Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona, where he encounters America’s oldest cuisine. Jamie experiences Navajo traditions up close, from over-nighting in a traditional ‘Hogan’ shelter, to learning butchery and cooking skills with the elders. And he also gets a crash course in Navajo spirituality and local rituals. He discovers that Navajo cuisine is on the brink of extinction, with young people preferring junk food, causing the levels of obesity and diabetes to spiral as a result. Can something be done before the traditions are lost forever?

Thursday, October 1 on M4

Jamie goes in search of the best cheap food in America. He starts his journey in America’s Deep South, driving a motor home across Georgia, one of the country’s poorest states, and home to rednecks and the birthplace of the civil rights movement.

Thursday, September 24 on M4

Jamie goes hunting alligators and cooking gumbo in Louisiana. In New Orleans his first stop is with ‘gumbo queen’ Leah Chase and her Creole restaurant. Continuing his travels upstate, Jamie joins alligator-hunting grandmother, Sydnie Mae Durand, who teaches him how to hunt alligator the local way, setting traps and shooting the alligator before skinning and cooking it.

Tuesday, September 22 on 4

Jamie goes hunting alligators and cooking gumbo in Louisiana. Arriving just weeks after Hurricane Gustav has wreaked havoc in the area, he seeks to understand why people return after such devastation, and how food helped keep the party going through adversity. In New Orleans his first stop is with ‘gumbo queen’ Leah Chase and her Creole restaurant. Continuing his travels upstate, Jamie joins alligator-hunting grandmother, Sydnie Mae Durand, who teaches him how to hunt alligator the local way, setting traps and shooting the alligator before skinning and cooking it.

Tuesday, September 15 on 4

Far from the glamorous lights of Manhattan, Jamie’s in Queens, a place where you can literally get the world on a plate. With underground restaurants the latest subculture in the NYC, Jamie tracks down an illegal Peruvian restaurant run out of a family’s living room. And he meets Zora and Tamara, who provide restaurant quality food at wallet-friendly prices from their apartment. He also joins George, a Columbian bus driver, who makes home-cooked food every night for illegal immigrants living on the streets.

Thursday, September 10 on M4

Jamie wants to see if the cowboys he loved as a kid still exist and if they’re following the traditions of the pioneer settlers, where camp-fire cooking, simple recipes and hard graft are the order of the day.

Tuesday, September 8 on 4

This week, Jamie wants to see if the cowboys he loved as a kid still exist. Following the traditions of the pioneer settlers, camp-fire cooking, simple recipes and hard graft are the order of the day. First stop is Cody, Wyoming, where Jamie joins the young men taking part in the rodeo for their traditional pitchfork fondue: hunks of steak fried on a pitchfork. Keen to sample real cowboy life for himself, Jamie travels upstate to work as a ranch-hand and camp cook at a local working ranch, taking in branding, roping, as well as castrating cattle.

Hating Jamie Oliver has been a bit of a Great British pastime for a while now. When writing about him, or indeed, talking about him down the pub or whatever, it’s incredibly easy to dismiss him as talented yet having something of a Bono complex. Aiming lower, you can simply do a bad cockernee impression of him and say that his tongue resembles a beached fish, flapping around and spraying brine everywhere.

However, slagging him off feels a bit old hat and predictable now. Sure, he’s irritating, but pretty much everyone who works in television is.

In his latest show, Jamie’s American Road Trip, we find our scruffy chef casting aside the saving of entire towns and getting ne’er-do-wells and turning them into chefs, to do something us Brits have been obsessed with for a very long time… and that’s the American Road Trip.

Stephen Fry and Dave Gorman are just two other recent travellers around America, with Jamie naturally going off in search of food and the stories that accompany them. What is it about America that makes us dream of disappearing down those great, expansive highways and freeways? I mean, you don’t get anyone crowing about a road trip around Russia or China do you? People like to do travelogues from those huge countries, but never do they make a point of doing it on tyres.

Well, as shown by Oliver, America has a unique draw in that it’s a country built on its roads. America is a nation that feels more like a continent, driven by gasoline and its gut. Of course, this makes it a perfect place for Jamie Oliver to mooch around.

As such, what we were left with was a reasonably pleasant programme. With no real agenda, Oliver was left to be laid back and meeting some interesting, warm people.

This first show dealt with the Hispanic community, which effectively meant that we all jealously gawked as Jamie snaffled some serious good looking food. Like Rick Stein’s travelling food trips, this wasn’t a matter of going to restaurants and pallying up with respected chefs, but rather, swerving off the beaten track to see what real people chomped on.

Amazing little parcels of spicy meat with Mexican salads – as much a surprise to Oliver as it was to me – accompanied ace mariachi horns and good, soulful laughs. Naturally, meeting real people means dealing with their tales of hardship and Jamie heard of people being up for murder, dealing in meth and losing fingers after they’d been shot off and all that grim junk.

Mercifully, we saw something of the Jamie that made half the nation rush out and buy his cook books. As one guy broke down in the middle of one particularly sorrowful story, our cheffy explorer looked to put a consoling arm out… however, our Mexican chum sniffed up the tears and started back with the food like nothing had happened. Dealing with it, working class style. Jamie, instead of being all simpering and telly, decided to take the piss and as such, made for a really satisfying and warm sequence.

I have a feeling that there will be a few snipers on the rooftops about this show, but to be quite frank, I’d ignore ‘em. The easiest thing in the world is to slag off Jamie Oliver. In this case, it really isn’t necessary. This is a decent little programme that has the potential to turn into a cult classic… especially if he keeps accidentally taking mescaline.

Tuesday, September 1 on 4

Jamie Oliver is on the culinary journey of a lifetime as he discovers the heart of America, through its people, culture, music and – most importantly – its food. The six-part series is more than a straightforward cooking and travel show as Jamie delves deep into the social issues and diverse cultures of 21st-century America. In the first edition he visits Los Angeles. The city is synonymous with glitz and glamour. But Jamie experiences a very different version of the American Dream a few miles east of the Hollywood sign among America’s largest concentration of Mexican immigrants.

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