Leave it to the ever innovative Chinese. According to published reports, in an effort to interest more men in the culinary arts, a Hong Kong television outlet that already broadcasts the news in the nude is extending its -- coverage -- to include a naked cooking show.
A 26 year-old model, Flora Cheung, will be cooking Cantonese dishes in the raw, covered -- for safety's sake, I suppose -- by a tailor-made transparent apron that, she says, "covers everything but hides nothing."
Ms. Cheung has no professional culinary training. She'll just be cooking up her personal favorites like fried vermicelli and ox tongue in wine sauce.
The South China Morning Post assures us that Ms. Cheung will begin her 30 minute programs fully clothed as she shops for ingredients at the local market, but she'll strip down and don her see-through apron as soon as she returns to her studio kitchen.
The goal, so producers say, is to draw more men into the kitchen. Or, as Ms. Cheung asserts, "Most men don't like to cook. I want to get them interested."
I have no doubt they'll be interested. Whether or not they'll learn to cook remains to be seen.
Let's see, maybe we can interest Food Network in this approach. Nigella Lawson, Claire Robinson, Giada De Laurentiis, and perhaps Aida Mollenkamp would be good candidates. Paula Deen, Ina Garten and Anne Burrell need not apply. Imagine the ratings boost "Iron Chef America" would get out of Cat Cora sans apparel.
And let's not be sexist. Give the ladies their due. Some might get a charge out of Michael Symon, Aaron Sanchez, or Bobby Flay in the buff, although the specter of Mario Batali clad only in orange clogs and an invisible apron is rather unappetizing.
My ever-pragmatic wife believes that the experiment will fail. She thinks the cooking lessons will fall on deaf ears as long as they are being presented with such obvious -- distractions. I mean, really, could you ever even imagine Julia Child participating in such a scam? (Personally, I'd rather not try.)
Of course, other naysayers are already warming up the tar and plucking the chickens for producer Jessie Au, all the while decrying the further decline of morals. "Yuck," was the comment posted by one online reader, whom I am willing to bet was not a male. Somebody else predicted that a few splashes of hot oil might cool Ms. Cheung's enthusiasm, but, hey, haven't you ever heard of suffering for your art?
(For some reason, the whole affair reminds of stories a friend once told me about being a milkman back in the '60s and making deliveries to a nudist colony kitchen.)
But fear not for the virtue of your menfolk, ladies. The program is only aired twice a month on an adult pay-per-view channel in Hong Kong. And, to date, there are no indications that DirecTV, Comcast, or Time Warner will be picking it up anytime soon.
Well, guys, there's always Julia Child reruns on Cooking Channel.