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 that really makes this show stand out, but either way 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 Mr T was less taken with the bits he saw, and didn’t think the show added anything new. (He seemed to express a preference for Anthony Bourdain?) I mean sure, “foodie travel show” is 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 genuinely used the Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation series as inspiration when planning our 2012 European driving holiday. We were going to travel around this beautiful continent of ours but didn’t know exactly where to go or what to do (with a few exceptions) so I watched the relevant episodes of Bakeation, which happened to be on at the time, and noted down where they went and what they ate. It’s how 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 as inspiration for travels further afield? If we were to go to South Korea, I now 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 the first 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 I don’t have a Thai or Vietnamese or Danish or Moroccan chef hiding in a cupboard to feed me pizza with obscene amounts of cheese on (with ridiculous napkins). The best I can hope for is a Chicago Town pizza from the freezer (which we don’t buy, because deep pan pizzas are an abomination, I’m sorry, Chicago!) or KFC. But it’s lockdown again now, so the most exotic thing I can hope for is to nibble wistfully on a suikerwafel I wish I had bought in Belgium, but is, in fact, from our 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.
UPDATE June 2021: Ten more episodes have been commissioned! Huzzah!