Wednesday, July 15, 2009

slow simmer until done

The other night while I was making the pizza dough – and no doubt humming to myself - I suddenly came to the opinion that cooking shows, primarily the 24-hour Food Network, are part of a larger problem; it seems a food problem cloaked in a TV problem. I don’t have anything against cookery shows, at the base level, because I learned a load from quite a few of them (Lidia on PBS, the older Bobby Flay shows, the early BBC Jamie Oliver shows), but I’m starting to believe that cooking has become something closer to a hobby than an actual live requirement. Think about all the other hobby-ish stuff on TV: flipping houses, antique collecting, makeovers, home improvement, and gardening. That’s not an all-inclusive list but it does reflect a load of activities that seem to fall under sideshows to actual daily life. All of them are great activities but they aren’t required in order to survive. With entire networks devoted to home-and-garden, cooking, motorcycle building, and new wardrobes, I think we’ve begun to see all of them as accessories to life as opposed to actual life. What logically comes to my mind is that we’ve moved from cooking as a part of our daily life and decided that it’s much like gardening, knitting, or redoing a bedroom; it’s nice enough but it can wait. Not only can it wait – like the bathroom redo – it can be fulfilled by someone or something else be that a restaurant, a microwave, or a bag of chips. If you untangle that mess and pull yourself back towards the idea that buying quality food and cooking it at home is an actual function of everyday life then you’ll be in a better place. I don’t buy into the idea that eating out, or eating crap food, is either easier or more cost effective in either man hours or money. Cooking at home certainly consumes a piece of your day when you do the shopping and putter about the kitchen but it’s not an inordinate chore that is somehow beyond most people. I know it’s no a fully-formed idea as written here but it makes sense to me. The other issue I think I could fold into my idea of “food isn’t that hard” would be the American workday timeline. I happen to think that eating breakfast at 7am so you can be to work at 8 or 9am throws off our entire cycle. If we awoke a bit later and had our workdays run more like 10 or 11 am to 7pm then we could change our dinner planning – which is the bane of the eating process – to something more like 9pm and then hit the sack closer to 11pm or midnight. The forced eating process that squeezes everything in between 7am and 6pm is problematic, at least as I see it. I think that I can make the point better by imagining a TV network that was full of shows that showed nothing but housecleaning techniques and tips; within that idea, people would stop cleaning their houses because it would’ve become a hobby. Here’s some enlightening news about fast food:

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