Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Washing Off the Dirt

Metaphor simplicity. I haven't cooked in a long while.

Grabbed some of my CSA potatoes to go in the pot with hot pork sausage, garlic, onions, chard, and hot cherry peppers. Ummm, yeah it's good.

Had to wash the potatoes so I pulled them out of the bag a couple at a time to wash and then set them on the cutting board.

Moment of clarity.

In mid-thought. Literally as I was scrubbing a potato with cold water.

I was so happy to be washing the dirt off potatoes that came out of the ground this morning and putting them in a pot so I could feed myself.

There's the ego of all of this and my love of parties and friends and wine and charcuterie and braises and sautes.

And then there's the underlying reason.

I just like being in the kitchen.

Significant tangent and pop-food-culture rant coming.

If you have no time and don't like to cook, pardon the interruption in your microwave life. I work at my schedule as best I can so I never have to use the microwave. That means I eat out because I like to and and I frequent restaurants with fresh cuisine ranging from the best burger in town to the seared ahi with warm white bean salad and onion burgundy sauce. I like cheesesteaks and tacos, but I don't want them to come out of my freezer.

Those sanctimonious crap ads about Lean Cuisine Market Creations that mock anyone who answers they relax when they get home by slicing and prepping veg? They're sanctimonious crap to me. You can shove your Food Myths...well, just shove them.

Let's compare ingredient lists for dinner tonight.

My ingredients:

Five small potatoes, large dice
2 bunches of white chard, sliced whites and greens
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small onions, chopped
3 hot cherry peppers, sliced
3 cups of water

My prep: Washing, chopping, slicing, mincing in five minutes. Saute onion, garlic and sausage, four minutes. Add water and simmer, 15 minutes (time to do something else in the house). Add greens and cherry peppers and simmer again, 10 minutes (another quick task, in my case, writing most of this post). 34 minutes total. Done. Bowl of freshness.

Their ingredients:

Blanched Udon Style Noodles (Water, Enriched Durum Semolina (Durum Semolina Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Egg Whites, Wheat Gluten)
Shrimp (Water, Salt, Sodium Phosphates)
Red Peppers
Yellow Carrots
Butter (Cream, Salt)
Garlic Puree
Salted Chablis Wine (Chablis Wine, Salt)
Modified Cornstarch
Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes)
Yeast Extract
Lemon Juice Concentrate
Dehydrated Garlic
Lemon Zest Flavor (Lemon Peel, Sugar, Lemon Oil)
Asiago Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes)
Buttermilk Powder
Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Flavor, Enzyme Modified Butterfat)
Potassium Chloride
Enzyme Modified Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Milk, Water, Salt, Enzymes)
Dried Cream Extract
Whey Protein Concentrate
Dehydrated Onions

Their prep: Not on the website. Ads say steam it all in the bag. Probably under 10 minutes.

This was just a lark because I was happy to be in the kitchen tonight and had seen that ad recently and almost gave the TV a not-so-polite gesture.

But wait...

No, really.

This is about to get interesting...

You SALT the WINE? There are sub-ingredients to the sub-ingredients in the PASTA? There are sub-ingredients in the SHRIMP?

Even the purported good guys are stuck in a world where you have to balance food with shelf-life.


I have to believe that I win. They believe they provide nutrition in a convenient package. And to a lot of folks, they likely do.

But when your survey man calls me to survey cooking habits of the modern American 30-something professional...he's going to get at least one outlier in the 'Do you consider time spent in the kitchen after coming home from work?' question.

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