What do you consider “cooking” these days? Does opening a bag of Bertolli frozen pasta with everything inside and throwing it in a pan over low heat count as “cooking? Or do you have to cook the pasta, chop the veggies and make the sauce from scratch? I know more people who order in or heat something up for their families nightly than people who plan out menus with actual ingredients and grocery shop accordingly. When I grew up many of the kids I knew went home to mom-made (or dad-made) food at night. I certainly did, but then I had the extreme where all our breads and cookies were also made from scratch. My Latino friends had stoves that kept a burner specifically to cook the pot of rice. My Jewish friends brought matzo ball soup to school during Passover that their grandmothers had made. And at our school’s International week the Indian Association would gather all the mothers together and they would cook a traditional lunch for the entire school one day. I do realize that the frozen dinner has been around for awhile, but it was not an everyday thing 20 years ago. Cooking is just not what it used to be.
Are we all just too busy to learn how to do these things for ourselves? Are good restaurants employing amazingly talented chefs at more of a plethora than they used to be?
There’s certainly more cooking shows with more ideas. However, I did notice that even on the Food Network the number of shows about this restaurant or that manufactured product are on the rise. While cooking “how-to” shows are on during the day...you know, for us stay-at-home moms...the evenings are mainly filled with competitions and travel-food “documentary” types. Even as I write this “Unwrapped” is on telling me about how Ocean Spray makes a gallon of cranberry juice. This doesn’t help me if I want to make my own cranberry juice, but who does that these days? Most people don’t even have the equipment in their kitchen anymore needed to make a glass of cranberry juice.
I’m somebody who is fortunate enough to have the time and the learned knowledge to make my family dinner at night, bake an occasional batch of homemade cookies, and even grow my own herbs in the back yard. I know...I should be on a commune somewhere. And while I’m not one who judges, or at least I try not to judge, I would love to see America go back to the idea that frozen food is actually the leftovers from last week in GladWare containers (note the embedded ad...they should pay us for that) stacked in the freezer. The amount of preservatives and chemical we are consuming and feeding our children makes me a little nervous about long terms ends to our short term, time saving means. I know this is feeling a bit “soap boxish” but cooking is such a good skill to have. And while we might not all be Top Chefs, there are so many recipes out there that fit budgets and time constraints but keep some of the unpronounceable terms out of your edible vocabulary. Did anyone else find irony in the fact that the chefs were standing in the middle of a store called Fresh Market trying to sell people frozen foods? Of course the foods they prepared quite possibly didn’t have the sodium or preservatives the Bertolli brands did. So, I say to one and all...screw the Bertolli sponsorship and cook..COOK your dinner.
My god...this soap box is a microwave!