Today’s must-read: Why “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” isn’t really about the food
Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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In our culture writer’s surprisingly moving essay on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, she argues that this food show isn’t really about food—it’s “a hug in television form,” and a celebration of local life in a country that’s losing touch with itself.

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Isabel Fattal

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The Loss at the Heart of Guy Fieri’s Entertainment Empire

Story by Megan Garber

In 2007, in one of the first episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Fieri visited Patrick’s Roadhouse, a railway-station-turned-restaurant in Santa Monica, California. The diner’s chef, Silvio Moreira, walked Fieri through the preparation of one of Patrick’s most notable dishes, the Rockefeller—a burger topped with mushrooms, sour cream, jack cheese, and … caviar. Fieri, looking playfully trepidatious, lifted the burger with both hands, said a fake prayer, and did what he would proceed to do thousands of times on the show: He took an enormous bite. And then he fell silent. “Wooow,” he commented, finally, shooting Moreira a what-have-you-done-to-me look.

“Different, huh?” Moreira said, grinning. “Yeah,” Fieri replied. The show’s camera discreetly cut away to the next scene.

The exchange would become a precedent on the long-running Food Network show fans know as Triple D: Fieri will simply not say anything negative about the food he eats on the air. Instead, his show elevates enthusiasm into an art form. Whether he is sampling burgers or enchiladas or barbecue or pizza or pho (or the pig’s head at Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; or the grasshopper tacos at Taquiza in Miami Beach; or dinner-plate-size cinnamon rolls at Mountain Shadows in Colorado Springs, Colorado), his reaction to whatever he eats will be praise. Fieri is a host who is, definitionally, a guest. He visits restaurants to learn about them, and to learn from them. He insists that he’s not a food critic. Instead, “I’m a food highlighter. I’m bringing the greatest hits.”

Read the full article.