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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fun and informative reality series featuring British chef Jamie Oliver traveling the United States to learn about American regional cuisines touches on serious topics like gangs, drug use, and poverty. Mature kids and teens can learn a lot about the rich and varied role of food in American culture. Scenes of animals being slaughtered, while in context, may upset young or sensitive viewers, too. Drinking (beer, wine, cocktails) is frequent, and smoking of traditional pipes is visible. Brand logos are sometimes visible, but not prominently.
What's the story?
JAMIE'S AMERICAN ROAD TRIP stars British chef Jamie Oliver as he travels around the United States to experience the wide range of cuisines that the country has to offer. The award-winning chef wants to move away from obvious tourist-oriented restaurants and high-end culinary hotspots to taste and cook foods from local neighborhood eateries and communities. From visiting underground food establishments in New York City to learning the traditional ways of slaughtering and grilling sheep on a Navajo reservation, Oliver experiences the looks, smells, and tastes of America's vast array of culinary dishes. He also talks with community members to learn more about their lives, and participates in some of their cultural traditions in which food plays a major role. After trying some of their cuisine, he creates his own recipes using local ingredients and preparation techniques, while adding his own flair.
Is it any good?
The overall series, which was originally intended to introduce Brits to the diversity and uniqueness of American cuisine, takes a fascinating look at America's food heritage thanks to Oliver's willingness to explore how food reflects the country's history and its regional cultures. He also examines some of the darker issues that America is facing, including racism, gang violence, and a debilitating recession, and the way food is used to cope with some of these problems.
While it offers a great chance for British viewers to see that American cuisine goes beyond hot dogs and fast food, it also offers them interesting sociocultural lessons about the United States and the differences between the two countries. Meanwhile, Stateside viewers will also find themselves learning new things about America's regional dishes. Regardless of where you come from, watching this is an entertaining way to learn about the importance of regional foods in American culture.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about food in America. What kind of stereotypes exist about what people eat in the United States? How did they come about? What does the real food culture in America say about the country and its citizens? Do reality shows like this one help diffuse or reinforce some of the stereotypes about the U.S. that that currently exist abroad?
Does your family prepare and eat meals that reflect your cultural heritage and traditions? What are they? What kinds of ingredients are needed to make it? Where did the recipes for these meals come from? How will you ensure that these recipes continue to be passed down to future generations?
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