Ugly Delicious’ second season plates up plenty of food for thought
Ugly Delicious is more than just a show about food. It’s a show about how we think about food. It asks some very simple questions that unearth deep and complicated answers.
— UglyDelicious (@uglydelicious) February 23, 2018
The first season of Ugly Delicious explored the history and diversity of some of our favourite foods, breaking down what pizza meant to someone in Naples or New York to how it was re–engineered in Tokyo to create ‘hot sushi’.
While the first season was aimed at opening viewer’s eyes to the foods they take for granted, the second series is much more concerned with what food says about us as people.
The second season of Ugly Delicious is only four episodes long, half the length of the first, but what it lacks in length it makes up in thought-provoking content.
The four episodes – Kids Menu, Don’t Call it Curry, Steak and As the Meat Turns all use food as an entry point to a broader conversation.
Host and the man behind Momofuku, David Chang, is the perfect person to take the viewer on this four-episode experience. He is unashamedly honest about how much he does not know, both within food and the world in general.
This is especially apparent on Kids Menu, an episode dedicated to the relationship between parents, children, and food. Dave finds out he is going to be a father and pauses to reflect on how just unprepared he is.“Like most things in my life, I’ll just figure it out by f**king it up, the difference is f**king this up might have serious repercussions,” Chang openly admits in the episode.
It’s this raw emotion mixed with a love of food and a curiosity about the unknown that make Ugly Delicious worth watching.
In the second episode of the series David tries to alleviate his ignorance of Indian food. He admits that he is “that a**hole” that only knowns butter chicken and beef vindaloo. This takes the viewer on a journey to Mumbai, Lucknow, comedian Aziz Ansari’s family home and TV host Padma Lakshmi’s apartment to show the breadth and variety within Indian cuisine.
Episode four, As the Meat Turns, goes deep into dismantling the myth that food from North Africa, the Arabian Gulf, Turkey and Asia Minor is all just ‘Middle-Eastern food’ and takes the viewer on a journey, from fine dining in Beirut to drinking pickle juice in Istanbul.
The show even tackles one of the most beloved staples of the Western diet, steak, in the episode aptly named Steak. Dave tries to find out why steak is so special, what makes it such a status symbol and why it’s imbued with misogynist undertones.
The show balances its contemplative nature with a good deal of fun. Bizarre infographics, humorous sketches and a vast array of weird and wonderful guests pepper the show.
There is a scene where artist David Choe tries to reenact the ‘this is a knife’ scene from Crocodile Dundee at an Outback Steakhouse – to the complete confusion and bemusement of David Chang, Bill Simmons and the poor waitress who has no idea who or what Crocodile Dundee is.
The show succeeds in being both thought-provoking and endearing. Dave and his friends and family are instantly likeable. While the show is big on ideas it never lets go of that central tenant – it is about food. It gives time in each episode to really showcasing some amazing dishes – Japanese Kobe beef, Caribbean lobster curry and Dave’s own Korean BBQ shawarma just to name a few.
Ugly Delicious is essential viewing for everyone who’s interested in food, history, politics or just wants to be entertained. Both seasons are streaming on Netflix and it’s well worth a watch. Check out the trailer for season two below.