Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feed Yourself Now: Don't Bother Cooking

You know what'll get me writing again? Anger. And snark. And a lazy Sunday morning when I woke up, walked into my kitchen, cooked breakfast by actually getting something dirty (and then cleaning it), and then sat down and saw another infomercial promising sparkling counters, lower energy costs, and gormet meals without thought or time.

Snark wins again. After not even a full relaxing weekend of sports and movies I'm almost ready to stab my TV again. Two products...

Yeah, me. The guy who used to wake up in college and grad school and actually watch the Ronco Rotissierie ad every week before football games. But something happened on the way to TV product bliss.

I grew up.

I spend so much time working and living in the uber-fast world that I actually WANT to slow down and cook meals for myself. 

That means I WANT to be in the kitchen. Not as some slave to the 'kitchen time gods' but as a person who can touch, smell, see, hear, and taste my food as I prepare it. Is that steak done? Well, since you seared it on the stove top and then put it in your 400-degree oven in a cast-iron pan, you can just pull it out and touch the meat with your first two fingers to see how done it is (and you learn what temperature feels like what by...get ready for more than once and trying). Smell the cut end of a cantelope to see if there's a faint smell of the fruit to find a ripe one there. Look at that eggplant and see if there are blotches or rough marks on the skin to help pick a good one. Listen to the pan with the mushrooms and onions in it because if you can still hear a sizzle there is still moisture in the pan and it shouldn't be burning. And of course pick up a piece of fruit and taste it to see if the season is right yet.

You know why this snarks me out? Because it tries to pretend it makes your life better by keeping you out of the kitchen. Meaning you have time to do so much other stuff in your life.

Sure America, stay in the office even longer because we can make sure cooking and food don't waste your time. Get a bigger McMansion farther away from the office because that extra commute time will be mitigated by your lack of meal preparation time at home. Your family won't mind.

And then there's the 'health' claims these guys skirt around. Bacon's not evil because we cook it in a frying pan, it's evil because you eat 5 slices a day with your TGI-Mc-Applebreakfast combo. I joke about pig big time, but I'm not pounding down 2 lbs per week. And I can read the ingredient list on the package wothout Latin training. I'll take that mojo and scold myself for not taking a walk and feel perfectly satisfied in my snark.

I am all for stopping microwave meals. But don't pretend the only other option is some other time-saving magic gizmo and that 'sweat in the kitchen' is a bad thing...

Second one is even more picky. And probably a more personal pet peeve for me. I actually LIKE to chop and prep my meals. The whole process of handling the onions and carrots, of crushing tomatoes, and of sauteing and sweating and carmelizing all by myself. I don't want the chop-a-crush-a-slice-a-matic. So products that promise to keep me from preparing food 'the old way' (by actually USING A KNIFE) is not attractive.

The ad complains about "rock solid potatoes." Really? If you have rock solid potatoes, you have a larger problem than your cutting implement.

"Cutting the old way can be dangerous." You mean...using a KNIFE? Oh, the horor. How could anyone in modern America EVER think that cutting food with a knife was acceptable? How could we ever have cooked without this genius invention?

Okay, now that there's a commercial in the NFL pre-game show, I'll head to the kitchen and wipe out the cast-iron skillet Pancake machine with a damp paper towel and call my clean-up done...


I'm The Chez said...


This is just my opinion, but I believe it is easier for those of us without immediate families to take time in the kitchen and enjoy it as compared to a mom and dad of two plus kids who both work and are trying to get it all done. Granted, I recently thanked my mother and grandmothers for putting us, the kids, in the kitchen with them from a young age. It's how we learned more about one another, learned about our family recipes and traditions, and the art of preparing a meal. With that said, there were the teenage years when all of the schedules were so difficult that shortcuts would have been greatly appreciated. I'm a single woman, and I would gladly use the mandolin or Little Oscar over a chopping board. I'm on board with what you are saying from a personal perspective though.

kitchengeeking said...

Meant to get to this a while ago! Sorry Chez.

I agree in part that if there are ways for parents to spend more time with their kids it's probably a good thing. But that doesn't mean the ad copy as to make the case for getting out of the kitchen as the best thing you can do for yur family. Why not find a way to combine spending time making a meal with spending time with your family? It's the idea that using any means necessary to NOT be in the kitchen should be the goal of a modern American.

And I STILL need to get down w/ your family recipes and make myself some Ranch Burgers and Beef Rice!

Broom said...

A timely read for me. I always appreciate a good ol' fashioned call for the return to basics. In fact, I had a moment like yours recently except that it was about ebook readers and getting rid of libraries and bookstores.