I am and always have been a huge fan of The Simpsons. Ralph Wiggum was included in my high school yearbook quote (he was also one of the first embroideries I ever did). In college, I taught two semesters of a class on The Simpsons and American society with a friend (the first semester, the class was only for freshmen, and 90% of the incoming class signed up to take it). There was a chunk of time when the show was just too bad to watch, but it has definitely been much, much better in the last few years. Like most fans, though, I can be a bit wary - current episodes are often hit or miss and are never as strong as the earlier seasons.
So when I heard that Marge was going to become a food blogger (even if only for one episode), I was a bit worried. Would Marge's new job be a success (pretzel wagon saleswoman) or a failure (erotic baker)? Would the writers just take the easy jabs, or would they actually pay enough attention to the culture to get it right?
I can happily say that they hit this episode, entitled The Food Wife, on the mark, even if it does pinpoint the pretentious nature of many food blogs a little too accurately. The basic story? Marge, Bart, and Lisa are driving in the car when it breaks down in Little Ethiopia, a previously unknown section of Springfield. They go into a restaurant and Marge (and the kids) are wowed by the food they try there. They meet a bunch of foodies, led by Comic Book Guy, who actually searched the restaurant out, and Marge is swiftly on her way to becoming a foodie. Marge, Bart, and Lisa start their own food blog, called The Three Mouthketeers, while Homer looks on. In fact, Homer seems to be firmly against food blogs or even trying new foods, saying things like "I don't eat anything new unless I've eaten it before" or "I don't want to think about food, I want to like it!" or "All the food in those pictures is poop by now." Marge and Homer are quickly and firmly on two very different sides of the debate.
The video above is by far the funniest part of the episode (I mean, who doesn't love a montage?!). Do a little freeze-framing and you can see Marge’s favorite food gadgets (Marshallow Puffer, Immersion Toaster, Raisin Re-graper, Industrial Tagine, Soup Ruler, Cranberry Pitcher, Banana Separator, Souffle Barometer, Pressure Curder, Convection Slurper) or Bart's 4-star review of The Burger Maestro ("An ostrich burger with buffalo mozzarella? It’s like a zoo exploded in my mouth!"). A spoof of Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind, the song name-checks chefs, food writers, cooking terms, and ethnic foods left and right. There's even a reprise of the song over the end credits that's even funnier than this version because it really gets down to the glamorous life of a blogger (We're bloggin' a food blog/ Setting up accounts for our users/ Using computers/ Most tweets every day, yo tweets every day/ Never give it four stars, ain't never give it four stars, maybe two, maybe three/ Moderating the comments/ Checking the page views, page views, page views).
Eventually, Marge and the kids get invited to dine at El Chemistri, a high-end and experimental restaurant in town. We see what I imagine is only a portion of the meal, but what a meal it is. It starts with mints placed in the mouth that vibrate when their table is ready. We see a deconstructed Caesar salad (romaine lettuce gel, egg yolk ice, crouton foam, and anchovy air), "Regret" (some kind of soup served on a pillow, which deflates when the soup is garnished with a single tear from the server's eye), Pork Chops 100 Ways, root vegetables "cooked in the perfect vacuum of outer space" ("They say you can't even understand parsnips until you've had zero-G parsnips"), and a doggie bag (woven from the silk of a blueberry-fed spider) of deconstructed apple pie (cue the ending of Ratatouille). You'd never think of Marge as the type of woman to try those dishes, so good for her!
My favorite moment of the episode (besides the song) was Homer's comment after watching the chef at El Chemistri make pine needle sorbet. He seems horrified by the very idea of pine needle sorbet - "Pine needle sorbet? Pine needle sorbet! My kids do not eat sorbet! They eat sherbet, and they pronounce it sherbert, and they wish it was ice cream!"
(My other favorite moment from the episode was not food related but reminded me of my father - Marge calls the kids "gang," and Bart shoots back "I hate it when grownups call kids 'gang.'" I hope you enjoyed that, Dad.)
If you could have one of Marge's favorite kitchen gadgets, which one would it be and why?