The heart sinks almost daily at the endless stream of news about obnoxious behaviour and worse – and when the heart is sinking, it needs a lifeboat.
That lifeboat is comfort in the familiar and the cozy. Many people take to consuming cooking shows and the like. This is a form of Hygge, the Danish and Norwegian word for the condition of contentment that arises from taking solace in the snug, the soft and the familiar. In Europe, seeking that Hygge is a whole thing.
A lot of it is about food and, while there are countless TV shows and entire channels devoted to food, not all of them are about warmth and well being. A good go-to channel for the authentic experience of comfortable well being and pleasure is TLN.
Among TLN's more ambitious and striking offerings is a tiny little series that has episodes just three minutes long. That's Amore al Dente, which airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:27 p.m. TLN calls it "sandwich scheduling" and says the micro-series, an original TLN creation, connects its weeknight lifestyle, food and travel programming. "Sandwich" is about right. It's a snack – and a silly but delicious one.
The little series is almost entirely the work of Kylie Flavell, who has had a presence here on TLN since her hilarious and saucy When In Rome vignettes began airing a few years ago. That was followed by the more substantial When Patrick Met Kylie: An Italian Food Love Affair, a hybrid of cooking show and romantic comedy of sorts. The back story is that Flavell was about to do a self-made TV cooking show, travelling round Italy, when fate intervened. She came across a blog online, that of an English lawyer, Patrick Drake, whose real passion was Italian food and had become a cook. She just invited him to be part of the show and they became a couple.
Amore al Dente is wisp of a series. It's a series of silent black-and-white vignettes, set in an Italy of the past, which chronicle the love story of a girl (Flavell) and a boy (Drake) who meet, flirt, date, fight and eventually marry while eating their way through classic Italian cuisine and being swept up in bits of history. They cook and you go to the website to get the recipe and instructions.
It's one of those little shows that give some viewers the idea that anyone can make this kind of production. It is, after all, created, produced, written and edited by Flavell. It's not so easy, though. Kylie Flavell is one of those people who almost frighten you with their industry and drive. She abandoned a media career in Australia, fled to Spain and then headed over to live "la dolce vita" in Italy. Along the way, she's become a one-woman content-creation corporation. Her online series about travel and food are numerous.
Her style is a playful, high-spirited and always-moving frolic. She never sticks to any place or subject long enough to become bored or to make the viewer feel a snippet of fun is being stretched too far. She has always done everything herself, from filming to voiceover to editing. In an interview with her I found this: "If I have to record a voiceover while I'm on the road and can't get to a recording studio I find the closet or any cupboard of my hotel room, crawl in there and cover my head and recording device with a heavy blanket for extra insulation and, if I don't suffocate or freak out the room-service staff, I get a great makeshift recording booth."
On TLN, Flavelle's little vignettes are a joyful dose inserted into an already ideal schedule of escapism. David Rocco has two travel/food series going, in his Dolce Vita culinary adventures. There's David Rocco's Dolce Napoli (Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) and his often bizarre but engaging David Rocco's Dolce India (Tuesdays, 10:30 p.m.) And, of course, Lidia Bastianich is the channel's great bulwark, with Lidia's Kitchen airing every weeknight at 6:30 p.m.
There is also the utterly charming Second Chance Summer (Thursdays, 9 p.m.), a soft and cuddly reality series in which 10 strangers are tested in their commitment to, and knowledge of, Italy by moving to and running a traditional farm in Tuscany.
If you need a lifeboat – and we all do, really – there's lot of safety and comfort on this channel, from the wisp of Amore al Dente to the generous servings in Lidia's Kitchen and beyond.