Note to Gwyneth and Claudia: Lose the Guys

I just finished watching the first episode of “Spain…on the Road Again.”  It’s on PBS (love it), and features chef Mario Batali, food writer Mark Bittman, and actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Claudia Bassols.  And I’m gonna write about it, so GET READY.

1. Dueling Mercedes convertibles.  As if we needed to be reminded that these people are rich, famous and fabulous. Although since all they seem to do is drive around anyway, I guess having no roofs on the cars makes for better lighting.

2. I love that they all call Mark Bittman, “Bittman.”

3. Bittman and Claudia conversations = creepy and boring. Claudia speaks six languages and is an otherwise fascinating person. All Bittman does is close-talk her and make her say stuff in Spanish.  She looks like an exchange student who’s fighting off her host family’s lecherous dad.

4. Check out Gwyneth busting out the Spanish! I love her ten hundred times. And she comes across as completely down to earth and calm.  Also, she is hilariously “whatever, dude” about the obviously contrived scenes.

5. Gwyneth and Claudia have obvious chemistry, and Mario and Bittman do, too – so by all means, SWITCH IT UP SO NO ONE HAS ANY CHEMISTRY. Ugh.

6. Or, better yet, just dump Mario and Bittman.  Sorry, guys, I know you know your way around a kitchen; and Mario, I’ve eaten at Babbo and it was indeed a religious experience – but Tony Bourdain has the foodie guy’s-guy niche all sewn up, and you two are no Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman when it comes to road tripping.

The story of the show, explained in the beginning of the episode, is that Mario and Bittman wanted to do it alone, but Gwyneth talked her way into it.  So now that they had this girl, whom they obviously had no idea what to do with, they dragged Claudia into the mix.

It comes off as incredibly sexist, which is rich coming from these two mama’s boys. So, I confess I was especially pleased when Gwyneth and Claudia proceed to kick their culinary and linguistic asses all over the map.

Gwyneth and Claudia are like the anti-Paris and Nicole. They’re multilingual, well-spoken, the camera loves them both and best of all, they’ve never met a meal they didn’t like.  Their one breakfast scene together was riveting, with the two of them weaving in and out of languages and shoveling in churros like they might never see food again. I could have watched that for an hour, but instead it cuts to Mario and Bittman stumbling around a fish market and barely conversing.

So, PBS, my advice is to lose the guys and keep the girls.  We need to see beautiful women who are smart, classy and who don’t treat food like it’s the enemy.


15 thoughts on “Note to Gwyneth and Claudia: Lose the Guys

  1. Martha,

    iTunes offered the first episode for free last week. But, there are many ways to get all kinds of TV and movies online – both legal and not so much!

  2. Thanks for this post. I wanted to see this show after looking at the clip on the NYTs website. I know a lot of women hate on Gwyneth but I thought she was very charming in the preview. She lived with a Spanish family during school and is fluent. I think she also knows some Italian. She has spent a lot of time here.

    I only get itunes Italia. I will look for it.

  3. Hello,

    I love your blog – wonderful information! Your readers may like to know that “Spain…On The Road Again,” with Mark Bittman, Gwyneth Palrow, Mario Batali, and Claudia Bassols traveling through Spain, is available on iTunes for download. I’ve attached an image if you would like to use it on your site.

    Here’s the iTunes direct link:

    You can link via the iTunes Button by using the HTML generated here:
    (Enter the “Spain on the Road” and search TV)
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    Also, you can earn 5% on downloads you refer if you want to become an iTunes affiliate. Go to:

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    Please let me know if you’re interested!

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    New Video
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  4. Pingback: “Spain… On the Road Again” - Why I Don’t Like the Show | Spain Travel Guide

  5. Oh okay, now I know that you thought the girls were great and it was Bittman and Batali that were boring. Anyway, I’ll try and get the free episode on iTunes. Saw that churros clip and was dying to go my local churreria for a snack 😉

  6. I agree with you about Claudia, as well as most of your comments about Gwyneth. The only thing I don’t agree with is that Gwyneth is a big foodie. Sure, she likes good food, but she’s a vegetarian. There have been several episodes so far where she’s turned down the dish because it had meat.

    I think they should get rid of Bittman and just keep the other three. I think Mario is great and all three of them have good chemistry together.

  7. Brian, she is in fact a weird food person, but the stuff she loves, she really loves and is excited about. That’s what I love about her.

  8. Sooo much to dislike about this show. Batali is just plain creepy with his sloppy crush on Paltrow, and both men slime all over the place. I keep getting the feeling they were total losers in high school, and this is their chance to be with who they think are the cool kids. Admittedly, Caudia is less annoying than the others, but I really don’t need Gweneth Paltrow, that eater of sticks and leaves, to turn up her nose at milk and refer to it as cow mucus. How childish. I also can’t stand the preachy way she reminds us she’s a vegetarian, while shoving cuttlefish and prawns into her mouth. Seems that some animals ARE more equal than othrs. I seriously don’t care what private school Paltrow went to, and think this quartet is possibly the most pretentious group since M.A.S.H.’s last season. I lived in Valencia for a while, and have to say they hit none, I repeat none, of the culinary high points or restaurants.

  9. Pingback: How to Say it in Italian: Search Queries Answered « Miss Expatria

  10. i tried to download the Spain.. on the road again from the itunes website.. but it says i have to pay first.. hmmm… where else can i watch and download this show online?

  11. There are parts of the show I enjoyed- mainly the Bittman/Batali scenes, where two obviously knowledgeable foodies talk about… well, food. And I learned a few things, and a few new recipes. But too often the feeling is is one watching of fabulously wealthy people having a trip and eating very expensive food that you, poor viewer, will not, in a million years ever enjoy. That part I found depressing. And the cookbook they produced to accompany the show is an overpriced bit of food porn- long on photos, short on content.

    • I totally agree with you on the overall vibe of the show – which I particularly resented, seeing as how I’m a broke writer and totally have better experiences than they did.

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