The end of ‘home cooking’ as we knew it
Shopping for Thanksgiving this year, I was astounded by the number of packaged dishes available: From the small country market where I order my turkey to the huge local supermarket that revs up for the holiday a month in advance to a tiny gourmet lunch shop, shelves were stuffed with pre-made options (cranberry relish, brussels sprouts, pies) and offers to supply pre-cooked turkeys, stuffing or even the whole meal, from $7.99 per diner on up.
Despite the fact that cooking shows are more popular than ever, most Americans aren’t cooking these days–or trying to find a way to cook less and less. Is it the time involved? Half of us are unemployed! Maybe we’re all at home, and don’t want to go into another room.
A lot of it seems generational–nobody has taken Home Economics in 30 years, and if you don’t start with How to Make Cinnamon Toast, you aren’t going to get much further up the food chain. Generation X Y Q or whatever may not have the patience for an activity that leaves no room for multi-tasking (take if from someone who’s ruined many a dinner trying to blackberry while saucing). Or maybe the explosion of cooking competitions–Iron Chef! Master Chef! Top Chef!–keeps us in front of the TV, eating takeout.
More and more, we seem to be divided into two groups: Professional chefs and people who don’t cook at all. You either go to cooking school or buy whatever their graduates have made.
And if we aren’t cooking at home, we are in danger of losing some of our history, the history relating to home and family. I cook my mother’s recipes, as she cooked her mother’s and grandmother’s. Will my daughter cook mine? Probably not.
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