Thursday, July 30, 2009

The State of Cooking in America

I love to cook! OK I got it out there. I feel like I am standing up in a meeting and this is something I should feel a little ashamed of. I do not know a lot of other people that cook. We have all gotten busier and conveniencefoods are in our grocery stores and on most corners in most cities, but I choose to take a few extra minutes to cook dinner most nights at least one big breakfast a weekend and dessert for my family each week.

My absolute favorite thing to do is gather the troops and head to our local Half Price Books, hit the kids section so all 3 have something to keep them busy and then camp out on the floor in the cookbook section going through the volumes as if I was a kid in a candy store. The place that I sit is the "Vintage Cookbook" section. I love the cookbooks from the 50's and 60's the best. They are charming and most of them from a time before everything came out of a box. I am very rarely interested in more modern cookbooks.

A few months ago I came across an article while searching for recipes on line:
The article in the Washington Post describes that both food companies that provide recipes either on-line or on their boxes and cookbooks have had to "dumb down," because most Americans plainly do not know how to cook. They chalk this up to a number of reasons : the number of woman in their 20's mothers that worked outside of the home, the practical extinction of home economic classes in middle school 20 years ago, the mind set of a computer generation that want everything fast. I can go on and we can speculate about this all day.

With this in the back of my mind I talked with an editor friend of mine about one of the few modern cookbook authors that I truly enjoy. She is British and I wondered why her books are released in the States almost a full year after they are released in Europe. Surely it did not take a whole year for the conversions. He danced around it for a while before explaining to me that they had to add more steps in the American version. That basic culinary terms that can very easily be understood over seas need more explanation here. So basically they take it down a notch or two.

I know we are all busy. Some work outside the home and some juggle PTA, sports and the basic day to day of having a family and some juggle all of the above. But I am issuing you a challenge. 1 day a week get into the kitchen with your kids. Teach your kids how to break an egg or make a cake. Visit the farmer's market and make a meal together. Help our children to know what saute means or how to "cream" butter all terms that have been taken out of cookbooks because it is deemed too hard for us to grasp.


  1. I love to cook, too, especially bake. My mom has told me more than once "You know, you can buy bread at the grocery store."

    I hate when I see a picture of something that looks tasty and the ingredients are stuff like 1 box of this, 1 box of that, 1 container cool whip. Yuck!

  2. Coll Whip gives me the heeby jebby's. I am the same way, I will stop reading a recipe if it has cake mix or the such in it. I do not have a good relationship with yeast, we just do not get along so any tips on baking bread would be appreciated!