Review: Spice Goddess

I finally got a little quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time around Spice Goddess.

Bal Arneson on WannabeTVchef.comThe first thing that jumps out at me watching Bal Arneson is just how hard to understand I find her.  It’s her accent I believe.  She routinely puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable and it is distracting.  I’ve not had problems with Indian accents on other cooking shows so I am guessing that it is something unique to her or the village she grew up in.  She does has a very warm smile that makes you receptive to her entering your home.  As a writer, Arneson is the author of the nationally bestselling cookbook, Everyday Indian (available at amazon.com) as well as being the National Post-The Appetizer’s West Coast culinary correspondent.

The production quality on Spice Goddess is hit or miss.  The cinematography is nice but a little poorly lit at times.  The editing on the other hand leaves something to be desired.  Some transitions are too abrupt giving the show a slightly amateurish feel.  The style is consistent with what I have seen from a lot of BBC cooking shows which tend to have great images of ladies suckling strawberries and vegetables sizzling in a pan but also have very choppy editing.

My main issue with Spice Goddess is the title which implies a show where the host introduces the viewer to spices from all over the world and from varying cuisines.  Surely Indian cuisine is famous for it’s use of spices but there are lots of other cultures just as renowned for their use.  The show’s name is inconsistent with its culinary point of view; it’s misleading.  This is a show strictly about Indian cuisine and I do enjoy how Arneson applies Indian flavors to non-Indian ingredients like salmon and sweet potatoes.  I am anxious to see how it stacks up against the Cooking Channel’s other Indian themed show, Indian Food Made Easy with Anjum Anand.  Spice Goddess is definitely worth a watch.

I do wonder, with two Indian cuisine shows on the Cooking Channel and possibly another resulting from NFNS 6 on the Food Network, is Bob Tuschman going overboard with a cuisine that most Americans still find unappealing?  Only time will tell.

10 Responses to Review: Spice Goddess

  • Lincy says:

    I definitely understand that her accent is thick. It does not mean she stresses on the "wrong syllable" it merely shows she's got an "accent." If you were right , Americans and Europeans would have a never ending fight on whose accent was "correct" because both stress on different syllables with different words. If you want people to believe your critique you must remain professional in how you word your sentences. I agree with your statement regarding the title' Spice Goddess'. However I think she is much better at presentation and the instructions to make a dish where Anjum Anand seems not to mention measurements many a times that you wonder, is the viewer suppose to guess them while they watch the show. And Anjum can be arrogant at times which is a turnoff. Bal Arneson in contrast is very pleasant and inviting making you want to try out her dishes. Who cares about perfect video editing except in movies. Its a cooking show…get your instructions and plate presentation right.

    • The reality is that if VP of Programming and Production Bob Tuschman thought much of either of the Indian themed shows on the Cooking Channel they wouldn't be on the Cooking Channel. They'd be on Food Network. He has long wanted to have an Indian show on the big network and it is likely that he will get that from the Next Food Network Star as Aariti Sequeira is the front runner.

      On the issue of whether or not Bal Arneson puts her accents on the wrong syllables is not a question of different dialects of the same language. If it were simply a case of linguistics you would be correct about the interpretation of where the accent belongs. However, "Spice Goddess" is a product they are trying to sell to an American audience so the only dialect of English that counts is the American dialect.

      "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."
      George Bernard Shaw

  • Jann Flatinger says:

    I can fully understand Bal Arneson and her accent and think she and her show are fabulous. I would never have noticed about the editing or the other technical aspects of making a cooking show–who cares?!* As a devotee of Indian cuisine, Bal makes it seem extremely easy to make. I have made one recipe and it was excellent and will make many more. Anjum's show is totally different which less emphasis on the recipes but more on the experience of working with people and making the food. Aarti was my choice to win the NFNS. She is an excellent addition to their lineup of shows and I can't wait for more episodes.

  • Bren says:

    I really didn't have any problem understanding the hostess…. she was professional and honestly, her recipes just made us hungry. As the above person noted.."she is an excellent addition to the lineup of shows and I await more episodes". The one little thing..I don't like the close ups when she tastes each dish..it is kind'a Nigella and doesn't suit the style of the show and I bet she would agree.

  • christine sinclair says:

    I absolutley think she is fantastic.. finally someone to simplify Indian cooking .. her recipes are amazing and simple.
    her recipes are so healthy !!!!!!!!!!! who hates how much salt the rest of the chefs on the network use it is disgusting to watch them informing us on how to kill ourselves with hypertension… it's not a pinch anymore it's a fist full

    • Yes Indian food is great and I am all for anyone who can make it more available to the American cook. Just so you know there is no evidence that salt causes hypertension, high blood pressure or any other cardio vascular disease. It does however greatly effect people who already have some form of heart disease. That being said, I don't use a great deal of salt in my cooking either.

  • Leanne says:

    I have known Bal for many years and must confess her story is made up… she was yes in an arranged marriage but she did not end her marriage when she was not fluid in English… but many years later… she worked for an agency working with quads and Para's… my friend Terry was one of her first clients.. they remained "friends" … she did not seperate from her husband until at least 1997, which I have proof…so the whole I was single mom and no English is a crock!!! She seperated after she had English, worked with home support not cleaning houses… was not disowned for several years later…. Terry and I went to her sisters wedding.. she applied for the Police force and failed because of their realtionship… .. all in all crap… but I have to admire the fact that she has pressed forward and do not deniy the effect of her cook books abd talent i have watch her on TV and confess it is "Wondderful"
    just the bull about the past.. dung fires.. really…

  • bob says:

    yes i agree with you i also have know bal for many years and all i can say is crap as well and lie after lie. i have been to her house many times and i have never seen her cook for her family so all these stories of ( i made this dish for my daughter and friends and they ate it up so fast) it is crap all she can do is lie to get ahead. she calls herself a chef well lets see the papers. she probly takes recipes of the net and changes them to better herself. so yes i agree everything she says about her life is crap and a lie

    • Bob (if that is your name since you did not leave an e-mail address) I cannot speak to the things you claim to have witnessed. I will point out that there is no paper work that makes you a chef. Degrees and certificates are nice but they are not at all necessary to be a chef. Mario Batali did not graduate from a culinary school and he is the foremost Italian cuisine chef in the US. The same can be said of many of the rest of the world's best chefs like Alain Ducasse, Marco Pierre White and Jean Georges Vongerichten – no culinary school. Culinary school is not required to be a chef, it is a shortcut, that is all.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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