After ending her career as a White House nuclear analyst, Ina Garten opened a gourmet food store in the Hamptons in 1978. Her store garnered the praise of celebrity chefs and restaurant critics alike, catapulting her into culinary stardom. She has since become one of Food Network’s queen bees thanks to her show Barefoot Contessa. To sum it up, she’s a domestic goddess.
There’s no denying that Ina Garten (equally known as The Barefoot Contessa) is a beloved household name. Her decadent and sophisticated creations are somehow both inspiring and demoralizing.
To be honest though, I find myself frustrated at the end of every single episode of Barefoot Contessa. I indulge in 30 minutes (ok maybe an hour) of her show almost every day, yet I always end up yelling at my TV screen. No matter how many episodes or re-runs I watch, her sayings and idiosyncrasies never cease to drive me completely apeshit.
Her Distaste for All Things Store Bought
This saying has been popularized through the many memes you can find online. Given her background as a purveyor of gourmet foods, it’s not too surprising that Garten stresses the importance of high quality ingredients. However not a single episode goes by without hearing something along the lines of “you need REALLY GOOD olive oil for this.”
This quality about her has taught me two things: 1) only use “good” vanilla (I personally prefer mine mediocre though), and 2) at the end of the day I’m no more than a lazy peasant who likes to use shortcuts in the kitchen. Wanna make a quick apple tart? Ina says: always have homemade puff pastry ready at a moment’s notice. But store bought is fine.
Her Exclusively Denim Wardrobe
Ina is one classy lady who likes to keep both her food and her outfits simple. I recognize and respect the need for consistency throughout a TV series, which is probably why Ina has been donning the same denim blouse look– and only that look– since the show’s inception in 2002.
Whether she’s going for a wintry stroll on the beach or having a Fourth of July barbecue, she’s ready to turn up in her dungaree getup.
Jeffrey’s Unwavering Devotion To Her Food
At the beginning of every episode–and during as well, if we’re lucky– Ina explains the dish she’ll be preparing. After her description, she tacks on an oh-so enthusiastic “Jeffrey is going to love it.” I sit by my TV, patiently awaiting the day for her to say “ehh Jeffrey might hate it but we’ll see.”
Then again it may not be humanly possible to dislike this woman’s food.
s of Difficulty
Ina is obviously an incredible and talented chef (fun fact she has no formal culinary education), but through the years I suppose she has become jaded to the technique and time required for certain dishes. No matter the difficulty level of her dish, she always finishes it with a self-satisfied “now how easy was THAT?!”
Please note that this can be used in a variety of contexts. Finish a beef bourguignon served over homemade sourdough crostini? How easy was that! Slice some store bought (oh the horror) mozzarella and tomato for Caprese salad? Equally as simple, apparently.
Her Food Will Make You Hate Yourself
Whenever Ina whips up a “simple” dessert, I immediately start salivating. One episode that stands out in particular is her mocha chocolate icebox cake. I need this in my life.
I start to jot down the basic ingredients and mentally schedule a time to make the dish. But then comes the kicker. “Two and a half sticks of cold butter, and a cup of heavy cream.”
Well shit, it’ll take a half marathon to burn off one serving of this bad boy. Don’t get me wrong, I love to indulge in sweets every now and then, but Ina constantly torments me with indulgent recipes that are sure to leave me feeling satisfied and self-loathing. Bottom line: avoid her show like the plague while dieting.
Her Dinner Parties
It seems that almost every episode is an excuse for Ina to have friends over for a dinner party. Maybe I’m jealous of her overwhelming popularity, but some of her parties are clearly signs that after thirteen years the producers are running out of ideas for new episodes.
I have seen episodes ranging from Ina cooking a dinner for friends stuck in traffic, to a party on the beach for a dog’s birthday (of course complete with homemade dog biscuits). Here’s a fun drinking game to try: take a shot every time Eli Zabar comes over for dinner. Finish drink if they make bread.
There are three things of which I am certain: the Barefoot Contessa will continue to drive me insane; I will continue to indulge in her show; and I would absolutely accept an invitation to one of her ridiculous dinner parties with men clad in every pastel shade of pink imaginable.