Larry and Laban created a cooking show like no other - for Po' Folks.

“Cookin’ Cheap” Revisited

Larry and Laban created a cooking show like no other - for Po' Folks.
Larry and Laban created a cooking show like no other – for Po’ Folks.

In 1981, an entirely new kind of cooking show burst onto the scene. Hosted by Larry Bly and Earl “Laban” Johnson, Jr., “Cookin’ Cheap” destroyed the elitist paradigm of all cooking shows that preceded it and most that came after it.

Po’ Folks, remember that this was 1981. There was no Food Network with 24-7 coverage of cupcake wars and food truck makeovers and people eating insects. Larry and Laban are a couple of unlikely Southern boys from Roanoke, Virginia who take cooking to unprecedented lows in the name of accessibility. They fumble with ziplock bags and oven mitts, their knife-handling skills are dangerous and their recipes largely untested. They bicker and drink. They usually don’t measure ingredients and cook at a snail’s pace. “Otherwise this show’d be a lot shorter,” observes Larry in an episode where he’s making Crabby Potatoes for a hypothetical retirement dinner. Laban’s cooking skills are focused around opening cans.

Any fool can do this, and they are there to prove it.

Anyone can cook, afford a good meal and have fun making it – just look at Laban and Larry.

Anyone can cook, afford a good meal and have fun making it – just look at Laban and Larry. Even after all these years, “Cooking Cheap” is worth revisiting. Sadly, most of the episodes have been lost but sometimes they resurface on YouTube. Ooooo-eee that’s good!

Episode 313 (1982); Pork in Mustard Sauce, Brandied Sweet Potatoes.

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