Saturday, January 9, 2010

Not stupid

Just read a great post on Michael Ruhlman's blog (read the full post here ) which just hit the spot for me:

"Americans are being taught that we’re too stupid to cook.  That cooking is so hard we need to let other people do it for us.  The messages are everywhere.  Boxed cake mix.  Why is it there?  Because a real cake is too hard!  You can’t bake a cake!  Takes too long, you can’t do it, you’re gonna fail!"

It's not just America: we are seeing more and more of this, and it's everywhere.  No longer disguised as 'convenience', the easy option is simply easier to get hold of!  We have the smell of rotisserie chickens wafting through supermarkets in New Zealand too, and even if you think you can handle cooking your own, you couldn't possibly make stuffing from scratch, so they do that for you, stuff it in the chicken, tie its feet together, and pop it in an oven bag.  You can handle turning the oven on and putting it in, right? 

I'll admit to grabbing store-made pizza bases when I'm in a hurry, but the rest is all me.. the 10 minutes it takes to top the pizza with exactly what I want is absolutely worth it!  The customisation makes all the difference: you can't add your signature ingredient to the store-stuffed chicken, and no matter what you serve it with, it always has that same safe, familiar flavour.  It never changes. 

But if you want your roast chicken to taste exactly the same as everyone else's, go right ahead.  Just think about it first.

[end rant]


  1. Not to mention how complicated the ingredient lists are! If you have special requirement like me you need quite the education to decipher even simple labels. Who would have thought that my lactose intolerance would mean I should avoid potato chips? Turns out it's not just potatoes and salt, the flavour coating is milk powder... and mayonnaise? Not just eggs and oil but no less than 20 ingredients including a dash of MSG.
    That's why I don't eat packet food or cook with it, because it's easier to know what I'm eating,

  2. My roast chicken tastes like chicken... what does yours taste like? ;)

    I was thinking about this when our flat was talking about how rare it is that we all cook. It shouldn't be rare. It's not mysterious. Yet I routinely shock friends who are over at dinnertime by cooking something in 15 minutes.

    I like cooking meals that take quite a bit of time on a Sunday, too - makes up for all the simple stuff I cook in the weekdays. There's something satisfying about a great meal that you made from scratch. (Which, for me, often includes even grinding the spices)

    Plus, frankenfood is scary. And MSG is an excuse for passing off crappy food as edible. Why else do you need to enhance the flavour?

  3. While I love cooking food myself, sometimes - mostly due to being fried from work - I don't want to think about how to put something together. I just want sustenance that will tide my stomach over so I spend time doing other things.

    I've also found that having the right cooking tools makes a world of difference. My current environment isn't that great for cooking so I tend to eat out more than I used to.

  4. Cooking for yourself can be as simple as making a sandwich. I freaking love sandwiches.

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. This post has generated a lot of (unexpected) traffic!
    Kerryn, I agree that it can be really easy: and you can even cheat a bit with some of the ingredients, and use leftovers. Which reminds me - I've been meaning to share my leftover chicken pasta! Here goes...

  6. As far as i am concerned, it's not about cooking being difficult, it's just boring. For people who are bored by cooking, ready made food is a godsend. in my view, if God had intended us to cook, He would not have given us Marks & Spencer