Overrated: Rachael Ray is far from fantabulous!

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When it comes to Rachael Ray, I find myself seriously torn. On the one hand, I am convinced that convenience foods are a major step toward the downfall of Western civilization; consequently, I am willing to join forces with anyone who fights against them. By convincing people that they can easily and quickly cook meals for themselves and their families, Ray is doing battle against the junk food menace and placing herself on the side of the angels. To that extent, I have to give her a lot of credit.

On the other hand, RR is also a traitor. In addition to her product endorsements for cookware, grocery stores, and knives, she has also made a lot of money shilling for Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts. Under the circumstances, I have to wonder if she suffers from multiple personality disorder, has an evil twin, or has been cloned by "the Man." Otherwise, I find it hard to imagine how the woman who won an Iron Chef cook off actually has the temerity to describe Dunkin' Donuts' coffee as "fantabulous." Unless "fantabulous" is a synonym for "tastes like it was brewed from a mix of flea dip and raw sewage," she's gotta be out of her tree. And let's not even get on the insanity of endorsing Burger King's deep-fried carbo bomb cuisine! Bottom line, anyone who is willing to sell her reputation to pander for the "Home of the Whopper" is morally bankrupt.

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Beyond that, there's the fact that Rachael Ray is incredibly annoying. I mean, like oh my gravy, she is super yum-o, mega-delish, über-obnoxious, gag-me-with-an-almond-biscotti annoying. Given a choice between spending a half-hour watching Rachel Ray and spending a half hour in my Algebra II class from high school...well, I guess I'd still watch her, but the fact that I had to think about it says a lot. I get that Ms. Ray may seem like a logical pop-culture step for a generation that grew up on Care Bears and My Little Pony, but she's just too damned precious for words. If her cuisine doesn't send you running for the insulin, her demeanor most certainly will.This brings us to the matter of her actual cooking. I don't doubt that somewhere, deep inside, she has a great deal of culinary talent. However, most of her recipes are for the sort of basic home cuisine that was popular in the early 1970's. There's nothing wrong with mildly updating old Joy of Cooking recipes with a little vinegar and paprika, but the sad truth is that the world has moved on. Given the incredible array of ingredients available in pretty much every neighborhood grocery store, it seems sad that Ms. Ray can't seem to offer more than a slightly jazzed-up version of the average bar menu. With culinary talents like Giada de Laurentiis and the Sterns offering quick, flavorful recipes, I have to wonder why Rachael Ray's fifteen minutes seem to be stretching into infinity!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. When he learned that Rachel Ray has released a line of pet foods, a lot of things fell into place.

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