When I was a child, my family and I used to take frequent weekend trips to Pittsburgh to visit the temple in Penn Hills.

This journey for me was marked by food; the highlight of the day was staying at a hotel in New Stanton for the night after attending services. We would stop at a small South Indian restaurant to order the crispiest of masala dosas with coconut chutney with tangy sambar and cooling coconut chutney for dipping. We would always eat our dinner sitting on our hotel beds in front of the television, watching a cooking show on the Food Network, and we would do it all again the next morning during breakfast and then in the afternoon for lunch. For a five-year-old whose life was laden with strict rules and routine, especially around mealtimes, this wasn't just a treat, this was a dream. It's unsurprising why I am a foodie today given these early experiences.

Stuffed Dosa with sambhar

manpreetkaur93 on Flickr

I recently had the chance to re-create this experience when I was in Kentucky this December. I packed a couple days' worth of delicious homemade food and headed down to the resort where we were staying. But night one of my stay was a bit unexpected in terms of program selection. I thought that I would be able to unwind as I ate my dinner with a nice rerun of Good Eats or The Best Thing I Ever Ate, two cooking shows that I have always adored.

Instead, the schedule for the evening looked like this:

Bhageerathi Ganesan


Bhageerathi Ganesan

And more Chopped mixed with some episodes of Holiday Baking Championship.

Bhageerathi Ganesan

The next day was no better, with an almost continuous stream of Guy's Grocery Games.

Bhageerathi Ganesan

It was only on the third day that I got to watch a couple episodes of The Best Thing I Ever Ate - and even though I enjoyed the episodes I watched then, I found myself wishing that those episodes were mixed in with other shows throughout the evening.

This was not the Food Network I remembered.

To me, the Food Network I remember is emblematic of a time when the network prided itself on providing content that could help its viewers revamp their knowledge in the kitchen. I remember a network full of variety and interesting content; a network where I could learn something every time I watched one of its flagship cooking shows.

I'm not the first person to write about this significant change in programming that began around 2010, nor am I the first person to attempt to describe why this happened and what this means to television viewers like me. To be quite frank, I kind of like this change in programming, and I don't mind having some more competition shows as part of Food Network's repertoire. I really enjoy watching Guy's Grocery Games and Chopped, and I do enjoy Guy Fieri and Ted Allen as hosts.

And I won't lie, I truly love how Food Network has structured its "In the Kitchen" morning block with really high-quality, relatable cooking shows, from the fresh new additions of Girl Meets Farm and Baked in Vermont to classics like The Pioneer Woman. But an entire evening's worth of programming saturated by one particular high-intensity show, for multiple different nights? I would imagine that even the biggest competition show fanatic would appreciate mixing up that programming with a different program. If anything, it would probably enhance the experience of a competition show just by switching things up during primetime.

When I spoke to my dad about this very different experience, he replied in his typical analytical manner, "if it doesn't get viewers, it won't be aired." However, it occurred to me that by that same logic, Food Network continues to air its "In The Kitchen" block in the mornings - there clearly must be some viewership potential for these types of programs.

So why do we continue to watch traditional cooking shows?

It may seem at first glance that viewers want easy recipes they can see being prepared on television without having to do it themselves, and I agree with this evaluation, but I think something deeper is at play here as well.

I think it is because we are hard-wired to feed others and be fed by others. The act of observing someone cooking and eating is thus a deeply comforting one, and we are driven to seek that visual comfort.

Good cooking shows convey such comfort. When we watch someone put a meal together, it's as though a virtual sharing of food has taken place when hosts take us through the process of preparing a meal. I think it is the comfort that this virtual sharing of food provides that is at the heart of quality food programming. I believe what drives us to seek such programming is when a host shares the process of that meal coming together, irrespective of the complexity of that meal.

I have come to really enjoy watching Molly Yeh, host of Girl Meets Farm on the Food Network and award winning author of Molly on the Range, for this reason. I relish the way she puts together meals on television and on her blog consisting of the dishes she grew up on and the dishes her family has come to love. When I see meals come together around her family table, I feel, in the truest sense of the word, fed, even if those recipes may not necessarily be incorporated in my weeknight rotation.

That's why Food Network trying to revamp its cooking content by adding cooking classes from diverse chefs and cuisines makes me happy. I previewed Katie Lee's Cauliflower Crust Pizza class, and it took me right back to that childhood comfort of watching a good cooking show in a hotel room. Plus, I learned how to make a smashing cauliflower crust at the end of it! I'm pleased with the direction that the Food Network has taken in this regard, and I truly want to see more of this now that quarantine has driven many of us to seek comfort in food.

So, Food Network: in this time of quarantine, give us your cooking shows, your new hosts and your old. Give us your cooking content, both online and over-the-air, your step-by-step lowdown on how to feed ourselves. Give us your diverse programming, from hotdish to orzo, from parmigiana to popovers. Give us your travel shows, your selection of where we can get the best food and support our small businesses when this quarantine is officially over. Give us your satisfying visual comfort, for we could all certainly use some of that now.

We will be right there to watch it all.