TV review: Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix, 2018-2020)
Need a pick-me-up? The answer is yes, yes you do. We all do. Solution? Go to Netflix and look up Somebody Feed Phil. Seasons one and two arrived in 2018, seasons three and four in 2020 (season four dropped last Friday).
Writer, producer, creator of Everybody Loves Raymond and all around ray of sunshine Phil Rosenthal travels the world to experience local culture and local cuisine. This is the basis of the show. He travels places, he meets the locals and samples the local food with them. Maybe it’s the deadpan commentary or maybe it’s the Skype calls home to his parents, but it’s delightful.
Phil greets everyone and everything with humour, enthusiasm, genuine warmth and excitement and I love it. He seems really nice, and I enjoy him going all fanboy over food. A kindred spirit, so to speak.
I should, in the spirit of balance, point out that the Squeeze was less taken with the bits he saw, and didn’t think it as a show added anything new. (He seemed to express a preference for Anthony Bourdain?) I mean sure, it’s not a new concept, but it still feels fresh to me?
Perhaps it’s because 2020 has been such a dumpster fire of a year this show hits the right notes for me. We can’t travel anywhere, and Phil shows us all these places around the world we can put on the wish list for whenever it’s possible to travel again. The Fernweh is real, people!
And, not gonna lie, I used the Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation series as inspiration when planning our 2012 European driving holiday, so why not this? We were going to travel around the continent but didn’t know exactly where to go or what to do (with a few exceptions) so I watched the relevant episodes of that series and noted down where they went and what they ate, and so we ended up visiting Vianden Castle in Luxembourg, eating genuine Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte at a very pink café in Triberg im Schwarzwald, and trying Zeeuwse bolus in Zeeland. So why not use Somebody Feed Phil for travels further afield? If we were to go to South Korea, I know what to try, or South Africa, or New Orleans …
If you like your food, Somebody Feed Phil is legit 100% unabashed food porn. It’s sumptuous. It’s delicious (okay, maybe not the durian fruit which Phil liked!!!), it’s mouthwatering and OH GOD I’M HUNGRY NOW. Seriously, the first episode I watched I happened to put on at like 4am and that is not a good time to get pizza cravings. Because then you end up wanting pizza but it’s 5am and you’re hungry and you should’ve been asleep hours ago. In my defence I only just found out the show was on Netflix and couldn’t leave New York waiting until a more civilised hour. (I may have gone slightly nuts since lockdown, but it’s all good – just found something and someone new to be overly enthusiastic about. The New York episode encapsulates all of it except Vampire: The Masquerade and the 1920s.) That pizza, though … 🤤
The only problem with this show, the perfect combination of food and travel, is that I keep feeling “but who’s feeding me?” Phil goes around having all this delicious food and sadly you don’t have a Thai or Vietnamese or Danish or Moroccan chef up your sleeve, the best you can hope for is a Chicago Town pizza from the freezer (which we don’t buy, because deep pan pizzas are an abomination) or KFC. But it’s lockdown again, so the most exotic thing you can hope for is to nibble wistfully on a suikerwafel you wish you had bought in Belgium, but it is in fact from the local Lidl. Maybe one day we can travel again. Until then, I will live and eat vicariously through Phil Rosenthal.
5 out of 5 sardine tins.
P.S. Do we have any Jewish delis in Nottingham? Asking for a me.