Sunday, March 19, 2006

Something ELSE Americans are Stupid About

Cooking. According to the Washington Post, Americans are cooking illiterate. With the explosion of cooking shows, great restaurants, and food magazines, it's interesting that people actually have less cooking knowledge than they used to. I suppose that as people have had increased income and percieve cooking at home as time consuming and difficult. And since many people didn't grow up with a parent who cooked, they don't know what basic cooking terms mean. I mean, I knew someone who said that he made a dish by 'frying the crap' out of the ingredients.

So, I'm sitting here watching the food network, and I just finished watching Paula Deene who used some of those dreaded stop words highlighted in the article, such as "cream" and "fold". But I see that next on is my cooking nemesis (you didn't know I had a mortal enemy on the Food Network, did you?): Sandra "Semi-Homemade" Lee. What the hell is "semi-homemade"? I once saw her make a dessert out of baked puff pastry (she might have actually BAKED the puff pastry herself out of the package, which is about as far as she seems willing to tax herself), and a bought apple pie which she broke up and put into the puff pastry. Why? Why wouldn't you just, I don't know, EAT the apple pie? I mean, it's a perfect form, why do you need to break it up and stuff it into puff pastry shells? I mean, I've got nothing against using packaged food, but...seriously? Her food is not appealing. Oh, and I can't forget her obession with "tablescapes". I actually think she's more excited by decorating the table than she is with the actual food.

I wasn't surprised by the article, but I did find how this loss of knowledge is affecting people who write recipes interesting. I guess the recipe writers assume a basic knowledge of cooking (like, when you say to butter the bottom of the pan, most writers would assume that the cook knows this means the INSIDE of the pan), and are finding that that's not the case.

I am eternally grateful to my mom, who taught me how to cook and encouraged me to explore and try new things. I definitely had my failures (and still do), but I'm not really intimidated by recipes (daunted by huge, exotic ingredient lists, yes, but not by techniques required). I'm not trained by any means, I'm completely self-taught, and I've picked up ideas from friends, but I haven't taken a class since I was in elementary school. I'm not building giant wedding cakes, though, either, because I do know my limits.

I do wonder why cooking shows and cooking magazines are so popular while actual cooking knowledge goes down. It's like the explosion of book stores and publishing while evidence shows that the number of people who choose not to read has been rising. They can read, they're fuctionally literate, but they don't read for pleasure. But they're buying books. And, apparantly, cookbooks.

Off the topic of cooking, let's take a moment to mourn the end of GWU's stellar season. They just couldn't bring it against Duke, but I applaud them for losing by only nine points. Here's hoping that they can be stronger next season and that they're not hounded by NCAA scholarship issues.


Blogger stalebREAD said...

well, it was a good run for the Colonials.

But wait, you mean you butter the INside of the pan? geez, that sounds pretty stupid to me. It smells so much better when you slather the outside. MMMMM, mmm.

12:33 PM  

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