Author Topic: "The Case Against Cooking"  (Read 14040 times)

senecando

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"The Case Against Cooking"
« on: November 12, 2014, 07:59:08 AM »
From a magazine you have definitely heard of and definitely don't read:

Quote
Bill Saporito is an assistant managing editor of TIME and directs the magazine's coverage of business, the economy, personal finance [sic], and sports.

The guy from Con Edison comes knocking on our apartment door once a month. He’s there to read the gas meter in our kitchen, where the gas meter is located in an apartment building constructed in 1928. He needn’t bother, since that meter hasn’t budged since, oh, 2010, when we shut off the gas.

The reason my wife and I don’t cook our food is the same reason that we don’t hunt our food. These skills are no longer required to sidestep starvation. Cooking now ranks right up there with vacuuming—except that vacuuming removes a mess while cooking creates one. We have more efficient uses of our time and energy.

And it’s not just us. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, (notice, there’s no Department of Cooking) Americans spent 43.1% of our food budgets on food bought away from home in 2012, up from 25.9% in 1970. It’s the highest level ever. One reason is that food costs a lot less now then [sic] it did in 1970. We spend less of our total income on food, so we can be a little less fussy about who makes it.
Chef Mark Bittman properly rails about the empty calories Americans consume that have led to our obesity crisis, but not cooking doesn’t have to doom you to a life of junk food. I don’t eat burgers. But there are plenty of other options in my neighborhood. The Chinese takeout joints can offer steamed veggies and tofu over brown rice at a price you couldn’t possibly beat in your own kitchen. (Not that you’d want to.) There’s a vegan place — right next to the steakhouse. Burmese, Persian, Italian, Jewish, French, Mexican, Indian, Turkish, and Thai outlets vie all for my patronage with fresh deliciousness, delivered to your door in under 20 minutes at a reasonable price.

Granted, New York is a dense city that can support 15,000 restaurants, and its crazy ethnic mix yields unmatched variety, but the rest of the country is catching up fast. The growth Hispanic America has been a godsend to better options. Emerging fast-casual, healthier-food chains with names like Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill are getting traction—one reason McDonald’s is struggling. And supermarket chains offer heat-and-eat meals that are freshly made. There’s a name for it: home meal replacement, as in HMR. Bless us, even 7-Eleven is getting into the game. You’re going to be able to buy real food there along with your cigarettes and Slurpees.

When I was a kid, families cooked at home because they were too poor, relatively speaking, to eat at restaurants, and Mom was home to woman the stove. Today, it’s the opposite: many Americans are too poor to cook at home; they’re way too busy trying to scratch out a living. For working parents chasing a couple (or more) jobs and a couple of kids, the act of acquiring and cooking food is a time-consuming luxury.
Where did we get this idea that we must commune with food through the medium of cooking? Why do I have to have a spiritual relationship with produce? (And especially with you, broccoli.) The kitchen as we know it today is a relative newcomer to the American home. Brooklyn is filled with 19th-century Federal-style row houses whose owners often fret about nailing down period details; but all these homes have retrofitted modern kitchens because the kitchen was originally in the basement. Cooking had been kicked out of the hearth and relegated to the remote part of the house.

Not cooking isn’t new, either. Until the Depression, a vast servant class existed in the U.S.—it pops up all over census reports—so that even lower-middle class families could afford hired help who did the menial work, such as cooking—in the basement. The modern-day counterparts of those servants are working at McDonalds.

The American Dream home with mom playing Queen of the Kitchen has always been more myth than reality. It wasn’t until the postwar period that companies like the Generals—Electric and Mills—began to fetishize the kitchen and the happy homemakers who would inhabit them. This is a relatively brief and booming period that began to come apart like a badly made muffin with the deindustrialization of the economy in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the advance of women in the workforce. Even GE is done with cooking: the company just sold its appliance division to concentrate on more complex and profitable stuff, like jet engines. What GE is saying about cooking is that the idea of transforming comestibles into combustibles through the application of heat in a specialized space is a relic of another age.

What I am saying is that if cooking can’t be done on my iPad, is there any point in doing it?

I love a great meal, and I’ve been lucky enough to eat remarkable ones prepared by talented chefs in Europe as well as in the U.S. I also have a friend who is a terrific cook and takes pleasure in sharing the fruits of his hobby. My wife and I are always delighted to indulge him. I can also appreciate that cooking evangelists like Bittman aren’t trying to start a cult, but rather trying to improve our wellbeing. That’s really admirable, but veneration of the stove isn’t the only way to change what Americans eat or their BMI. It’s why Con Ed’s meter reader will continue to come up empty when he reaches our door.

(Quoting and not linking for obvious reasons.)

DeepEllumStache

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2014, 08:10:09 AM »
I just threw up a little bit reading that.

Just because more people go out for more of their meals doesn't make it a good thing.  Correlation may not equal causation, but Americans have also gotten significantly more obese since 1970.

Quote
What I am saying is that if cooking can’t be done on my iPad, is there any point in doing it?

/facepalm


rocksinmyhead

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 08:23:11 AM »
holy shitballs.

even putting exploding-volcano-of-wastefulness aside, that dude and I have very different views of food, eating, and cooking.

Fodder

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2014, 08:26:58 AM »
This is batshit.  Seriously.


crazyworld

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 08:38:44 AM »
+1 what Serperntstooth said...
If I lived in a tiny apartment in NY, with a tinier kitchen, and had world cuisine within walking distance, not sure how much I would be cooking either. Though I would still be cooking a bit.

odput

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2014, 08:42:54 AM »
I don't even understand the point the author is trying to make...are we saying it's cheaper to go out to eat?  If so, I don't see anything that resembles a cost comparison.  Or maybe that before the depression people were lazy and didn't cook their own food, so we shouldn't either?

I don't get it, even ignoring all the facepunch-worthy stupidity laden throughout it, I just don't understand what the point of the article is.

Pigeon

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2014, 09:07:00 AM »
If this person wants to spend a fortune not cooking, I'm OK with it, but please stop misleading people.  There is simply  no way that decent quality restaurant food is going to be as inexpensive as cooking from the basics yourself.  Not even in NYC.

I do know a number of lower income folks who hate Mark Bittman and his ilk with a passion.  It's not that they don't really know how to cook.  They are living in circumstances where they may not have good facilities to cook, may not have access to good sources of fresh food, may not have good and reliable transportation, and may be working multiple jobs and have other priorities for what little time is available. I can understand that, and I can see how you'd find Bittman a little patronizing. 

GuitarStv

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2014, 09:12:28 AM »
+1 to everything SerpentsTooth is saying.



Cooking is cheap, but only if you know how to shop for it . . . which is a skill you only develop by cooking.

galliver

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2014, 09:20:17 AM »
1. Ah, New Yorker myopia. Relevant image at the link below. Most people do not have access to a big range of high quality restaurants. There are two decent restaurants where I grew up. One is French and very expensive. The other is a fantastic pho place run by the Vietnamese family in town. There used to be a fantastic brick oven pizza place, until it went under new management. That's it.

https://valentinamonte.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/new-york-center-of-the-universe-new-yorker-cover-steinberg1-1.jpg

2. In the past century or so, we've witnessed a wholesale collapse in domestic knowledge. And if you don't know how to cook, it's EXPENSIVE. I grew up cooking (the linked recipe is one my mother and grandmother both made when I was a child) and I know how to follow a recipe. Recipes, btw, are generally geared toward people who can already cook. I can roughly predict from reading one if something is to my taste, and I know how to modify something on the fly to make it better (I find the below recipe needs a longer cooking time, for instance, and it's better shredded than sliced).

I see the way my coworkers who don't know how to cook buy groceries when they want to cook, and it IS more expensive than cheap takeout. They usually have to buy a cooking utensil or two, because they don't have a properly stocked kitchen or have no idea how to improvise. I made this over the weekend, and we've been eating it all week:

http://food52.com/recipes/19878-nach-waxman-s-brisket-of-beef

Consider the tools:

I bought a cast iron Dutch oven three years ago for $43. Conservatively, I've used it 100 times since, for $0.43/use. I will probably use it AT LEAST 1000 times before the end of its useful lifespan, bringing it down to less than a nickel a use. I can almost guarantee you I'm the only one in my office who owns such a thing, and most of my coworkers, if they bought one, would not use it enough to make the purchase worthwhile. If I didn't have a Dutch oven, I'd have the experience to finesse something else. I've made that recipe in a 9x13 pan and once, in an oven-safe pasta pot.

Consider the ingredients:

Brisket here is $10/lb. If you watch during the Jewish holidays, you can get it for $6/lb, but that requires planning ahead. If you know anything about meat, you know you can just buy plain old stew beef for even less and it will work just fine. So I made this with beef from my butcher in Connecticut and it was 3 lbs for $10 and he gives me overweight "pounds."

Since I already cook, I have a full spice pantry. I won't buy a bottle of pepper only to have it go to waste due to lack of use. And if I do need pepper, I don't pick it up at Duane Reade for an outrageous markup. I get it in a giant sack for like $4 when I go to the Indian Market.

The remainder of the pound of carrots will be used up in the soup later that week. The remaining half-can of tomato paste won't rot in the fridge; it's destined for pasta sauce later in the week, and I bought a case to cut costs anyway. Ditto the flour; I buy it 10 pounds at a go, so I'm not buying a tiny bag that sits on the shelf forever until it gets weevils and gets trashed.

I go through onions like crazy, so I know to buy them in the giant sack for 50 cents a pound, and not ONE AT A TIME for $2 each.

That giant pot of brisket probably cost me $25 to make, and it's one of the most expensive meals we eat, and it lasts two people 5 meals, once I boil up pasta or serve homemade bread with it for sandwiches. If I had no cooking experience, the brisket would be $60, the onions and other ingredients would be $20, and I'd have had to buy a new pot, and suddenly this dinner is $120 and because I'm an inexperienced cook I have NO IDEA if the recipe will turn out well. Eating out becomes much more attractive then. If you are going to cook OFTEN, the Dutch oven is worth the investment and it's worth the cost of a few failed recipes, and it's worth the investment in spices and time to learn how to shop well. But if you aren't going to turn this into something you do multiple times a week, the cost/benefit equation can look different if you're a high earner and there's abundant good fast food options around, which there are in NYC.
Based on this and a couple articles shared by Facebook friends, it sounds like people intimidated by cooking think they need to create these elaborate feasts each time...but there are certainly ways to start with things that are easy just to get in the habit and work up from there.

Pasta with sauce from a jar and Italian sausage. Rice, chicken (even rotisserie from the store!), and a steamed vegetable. Salads. Sandwiches. Those are so easy to introduce...not for $1/person/meal, but significantly less than $10.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2014, 09:24:41 AM »
Based on this and a couple articles shared by Facebook friends, it sounds like people intimidated by cooking think they need to create these elaborate feasts each time...but there are certainly ways to start with things that are easy just to get in the habit and work up from there.

Pasta with sauce from a jar and Italian sausage. Rice, chicken (even rotisserie from the store!), and a steamed vegetable. Salads. Sandwiches. Those are so easy to introduce...not for $1/person/meal, but significantly less than $10.

Agreed, but I do kinda see how people then don't want to take a step "down" from their fancier takeout/restaurant meals to eat simple food for a while. I have often thought that I am so, so glad I started learning to cook while in college and grad school (I learned a little before that from my parents, but not much, was more into baking). I think it would be MUCH harder to learn if you are 30, have higher expectations of your food, and are trying to cook for kids. There's a lot less room for error vs. cooking for your 21 year old self. Not saying people can't or shouldn't learn, just saying, it was a lot easier for me.

Pigeon

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2014, 10:01:57 AM »
I'd weigh 400 lbs and have HBP if all I ate was restaurant food.

MandalayVA

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2014, 10:24:55 AM »
Re:  this article:


Zikoris

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2014, 10:33:53 AM »
It's crazy talk. Last night we had an absolutely fantastic dinner for three people - a giant salad with croutons and homemade creamy cucumber dressing, and a big pot pie with super flaky homemade pie crust - for the total cost of just a few bucks, and we had leftovers for my boyfriend's lunch today. It was maybe 30-45 minutes of actual work at a VERY relaxed pace (hanging out chatting and listening to music), followed by 45 minutes of baking time during which we mounted our tv on the wall and hung some pictures.

I just don't get this mindset. It's starting to pop up a lot these days.

Fodder

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2014, 10:49:18 AM »
It's crazy talk. Last night we had an absolutely fantastic dinner for three people - a giant salad with croutons and homemade creamy cucumber dressing, and a big pot pie with super flaky homemade pie crust - for the total cost of just a few bucks, and we had leftovers for my boyfriend's lunch today. It was maybe 30-45 minutes of actual work at a VERY relaxed pace (hanging out chatting and listening to music), followed by 45 minutes of baking time during which we mounted our tv on the wall and hung some pictures.

I just don't get this mindset. It's starting to pop up a lot these days.

I also agree, but I also get the hurdles that were mentioned earlier in this thread.  I've always been an intuitive cook - i.e., I can rhyme of lists of possible substitutions for almost any recipe or equipment.  My DH often remarks that he has no idea how I know these things (I also have no idea how I know these things....it just happened).  I can totally see how approaching a recipe when you have a poorly stocked kitchen and no cooking background could be intimidating.

But I also don't think it's an excuse.  There is so much information out there and so many blogs and websites that will help with everything from the most basic of dishes to an elaborate dinner party.  So when someone has the money to go out, and the time to go out, they don't get a lot of sympathy from me when they come whining that cooking is OMG SO EXPENSIVE AND TIME CONSUMING.  If you can consistently eat out, at $10+ a meal, and you ahve time to wait for takeout, then you totally have time and money to suck it up and learn to cook.

Dinner last night for us was a roasted eggplant soup (2 99c eggplants, onions, garlic, broth, lemon, topped with a quick lemon oil and zaatar) paired with a lentil-spinach salad (lentils cooked from dry, spinach, tomato, shallot, capers and balsamic vinaigrette).  It took less than an hour to come together (faster than delivery in my part of the world), cost about $7 total and made 8 servings.  It fed four of us last night, and it's enough that I'll use it for leftover dinner AND lunch, thus saving time and money in the future.

solon

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2014, 11:27:46 AM »
(Quoting and not linking for obvious reasons.)

I don't get it. Why aren't we linking to this article?

senecando

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2014, 12:02:34 PM »
(Quoting and not linking for obvious reasons.)

I don't get it. Why aren't we linking to this article?

It's just my way of fighting the linkbait power. (And I don't think we can make nofollow links through the BB software.)
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 12:06:28 PM by senecando »

GuitarStv

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2014, 12:06:19 PM »
He's trying to master his linkbate tendencies.

senecando

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2014, 12:07:14 PM »
He's trying to master his linkbate tendencies.

and failing.

EricL

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2014, 12:19:11 PM »
This is the first article I've read where I've actually thought of doing a face punch for real instead of as a figure of speech.  Mind you I really love to eat out.  But I could never argue that any circumstance in life indicated I'd somehow evolved out of cooking.  It's very sad if this clown manages Times' financial advice.

TrMama

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2014, 12:37:16 PM »
This article is so off base it's hilarious.

Tonight, we'll be eating a delicious dinner . . . cooked by my 8 year old. She must be a flippin' genius to have mastered the meal she'll be making. Perhaps she should apply to become the editor of TIME.

myteafix

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2014, 01:35:35 PM »

I also agree, but I also get the hurdles that were mentioned earlier in this thread.  I've always been an intuitive cook - i.e., I can rhyme of lists of possible substitutions for almost any recipe or equipment.  My DH often remarks that he has no idea how I know these things (I also have no idea how I know these things....it just happened).  I can totally see how approaching a recipe when you have a poorly stocked kitchen and no cooking background could be intimidating.

But I also don't think it's an excuse.  There is so much information out there and so many blogs and websites that will help with everything from the most basic of dishes to an elaborate dinner party.  So when someone has the money to go out, and the time to go out, they don't get a lot of sympathy from me when they come whining that cooking is OMG SO EXPENSIVE AND TIME CONSUMING.  If you can consistently eat out, at $10+ a meal, and you ahve time to wait for takeout, then you totally have time and money to suck it up and learn to cook.

Totally agree. This is the age of the internet. There's an article out there for everything. Then, once you have that knowledge and experience under your belt, it doesn't take nearly as much conscious effort.

AllieVaulter

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2014, 01:56:34 PM »
I cook my food specifically because it is cheaper than eating out.  Plus healthier.  Depending on where you are, it is possible to buy cheap food, but the cheap food is usually not the healthy food. 

The part I found most shocking was his comparison of McDonald's workers to our servants.  Yeah, they "serve" your food, but the title of servant implies a lot more than that.  Besides, back in the good ol' days when they had servants to do all the work the rich people were too good to do...  Rich people got BEHEADED when the servants got pissed off.  There were some seriously violent revolutions to get away from those relationships, I'd be a little more careful before I embraced this idea of his. 

Cpa Cat

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2014, 02:03:19 PM »
If I had to live in NYC, I might choose to eat out every day. The vast variety of eats seems like one of the few advantages of NYC - it would hurt not to explore that.

Without engaging in this one good thing about NYC, I would easily turn into this cat if I had to live there:



senecando

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2014, 02:10:44 PM »
Trying to figure out what jobs can only be done in NY. UN?

fubared

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2014, 02:55:54 PM »
I read an article in Forbes that fast food value menu's are on par with preparing it yourself due to the bulk discount the chains get. I admit I could save a few bucks a day not eating out. But as a person living alone the gap between eating out or cooking at home isn't that big for me personally.

sheepstache

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #25 on: November 12, 2014, 03:02:49 PM »
I do appreciate the debunking of misconceptions about history. Many people believe that they have an idea what life was like in the past but most of their sources of information originate in the present day. Try reading a history book written 100 years ago for some interesting perspective.

However, my bigger beef with that issue is not the inaccuracy but the reason why people want an idea of the past. They often want it so they can base their beliefs on it, either that life was better in the old days or that life was worse, depending on your persuasion. Silly. You should judge whether something was good or bad on its own merits not simply on whether it came prior to your moment on the cosmic timeline. It's stupid to say we ought to cook all our own food because that's how they used to do it in the 50's but it's also stupid to say we shouldn't cook our own food because people used to have servants. That's not reasoning, that's simply normalizing the reality you find yourself in, coming up for a rationale for something you already feel like doing.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #26 on: November 12, 2014, 03:39:21 PM »
It's a giant troll, the point of which is to get people riled up so they post comments to his blog. Because the fact is that nobody actually gives a crap whether he cooks or not.

Metta

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #27 on: November 12, 2014, 07:20:24 PM »

I also agree, but I also get the hurdles that were mentioned earlier in this thread.  I've always been an intuitive cook - i.e., I can rhyme of lists of possible substitutions for almost any recipe or equipment.  My DH often remarks that he has no idea how I know these things (I also have no idea how I know these things....it just happened).  I can totally see how approaching a recipe when you have a poorly stocked kitchen and no cooking background could be intimidating.

But I also don't think it's an excuse.  There is so much information out there and so many blogs and websites that will help with everything from the most basic of dishes to an elaborate dinner party.  So when someone has the money to go out, and the time to go out, they don't get a lot of sympathy from me when they come whining that cooking is OMG SO EXPENSIVE AND TIME CONSUMING.  If you can consistently eat out, at $10+ a meal, and you ahve time to wait for takeout, then you totally have time and money to suck it up and learn to cook.

Totally agree. This is the age of the internet. There's an article out there for everything. Then, once you have that knowledge and experience under your belt, it doesn't take nearly as much conscious effort.

Sometimes the sheer amount of information on a topic can cause problems. Learning to cook is not the same as learning recipes. I helped a friend learn to cook (she grew up in a non-cooking household) and it wasn't just how to do things that she was missing but she lacked a basic feel for the standard patterns of dishes. Theoretically, once you know how to cook one bean soup, you should be set to cook just about any other kind of bean or vegetable soup because they have the same underlying pattern. Once you understand the basic pattern of a yeasted bread, you should be able to make just about any other kind of bread or pizza because they are also the same pattern. Similarly with quick breads or flat breads or various vegetable dishes. (And, truly, if you can cook a soup, a bread, and a vegetable, you have no need to eat out ever again.)

What I saw with her and what I see with other people is that they can't cook without a recipe because no one has taught them the theory or pattern underneath these recipes. So they get flustered if they don't have something or think it is a big production to make dinner because they have to buy all the ingredients and don't know how to substitute.

Teaching someone the pattern underneath dishes is just as easy as teaching them a recipe. But the internet is not flooded with cooking theory. It is flooded with recipes. This exacerbates the problem.

Zikoris

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #28 on: November 12, 2014, 08:18:22 PM »
How difficult is it really to learn how to cook? I mean, I grew up in a mostly non-cooking/extremely basic cooking household, moved out at 18, and used trial and error and my reading ability to figure it out. I mean, I didn't even have internet at the time, but the package of rice or couscous or veggie burgers has cooking directions on it. I didn't know much about spices then, but pre-mixed seasoning blends can be pretty cheap and they do the trick.

It doesn't even take any real effort to make simple dishes. Once a week shopping for the basics, 1/2 hour of cooking a few nights a week (eating leftovers some days), minimal clean up if you make simple things - typically I had to wash my frying pan, cutting board, one knife, flipper, plates, and fork. My favourite meals at the time were pasta with tomato sauce and mexican-spice veggie ground round, stir fry with basmati rice, sandwiches and wraps, and simple casseroles. I typically made pancakes for breakfast from pancake mix and soy milk. I still love all those dishes even now that I can make anything else I would want.

Oh, and I had no kitchen - I used an electric frying plan, a toaster oven, and a little element that plugged into the wall. Except I had to plug things in different parts of the apartment so I wouldn't blow a fuse and knock my lights out (which is a big deal in a basement suite). So making a stir fry involved running back and forth between two rooms.

Daisy

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #29 on: November 12, 2014, 08:26:32 PM »
Actually, I think it's a pretty good comparison. Most middle class house holds in the past had a domestic to help with chores and child care. For a variety of reasons, we're no longer comfortable having staff in our homes. So we send our kids to daycare or put them in school for ever longer hours, eat in restaurants, send our shirts to the dry cleaners, have someone come in and vacuum, buy convenience foods, get a landscaping service to mow the lawn and use specialized domestic robots to do some chores. If you look at how much many two income couples spend on the stuff enumerated above, it would easily total paying a person minimum wage or more full time.

Domestic help? That doesn't sound middle class to me. Maybe upper middle class. At least when I was growing up...

I guess we have higher expectations for our lifestyles these days.

Goldielocks

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #30 on: November 13, 2014, 12:32:06 AM »
Think about it.. That servant class was washing clothes and dishes by hand.  Ironing was a real chore, and as for food, they made bread, noodles, soup, from scratch, and pickled and canned most everything too.

Even meat would have been purchased in large roasts, needing further cutting before cooking.  No fridge meant frequent grocery shopping +walking) etc.


The Borgs

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #31 on: November 13, 2014, 01:35:56 AM »
I cook a heck of a lot from scratch, partly because a lot of the time it's cheaper, some of the time it's better than I can purchase, my husband eats so darned much I do it in bulk and frankly I'm good at it.

That said, I'm not averse to eating out and purchasing food. Sometimes I require the convenience (if we both worked stupid hours, I'm not about to beat myself with a stick to get a good meal), sometimes it's for enjoyment (it's something I can't do that well yet myself - I treat it then as a learning experience too, quite a lot of our regular meals were inspired by eating out) and sometimes it is actually cheaper.

Last nights dinner we ate out. I was heading to hospital today, was stressed and needed a distraction. Thanks to a special offer and a discount voucher, the two of us had breaded fish and chips and soft drinks for $6.50. I can't cook that at home for that, not even when the fish is on special here, so it was certainly economical.

When I was staying away from home for work, my husband came with. There was a huge Asian community in the area and the local dining options were outstanding. A whole roast duck, served 2 ways with enough to take home and feed us lunch and dinner the next day - $20. If I was in an area like that, or I dare say like NYC, I would eat out a bit more I dare say. It's a joy to me and something I do attach value to.

dcheesi

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #32 on: November 13, 2014, 06:16:04 AM »
Actually, I think it's a pretty good comparison. Most middle class house holds in the past had a domestic to help with chores and child care. For a variety of reasons, we're no longer comfortable having staff in our homes. So we send our kids to daycare or put them in school for ever longer hours, eat in restaurants, send our shirts to the dry cleaners, have someone come in and vacuum, buy convenience foods, get a landscaping service to mow the lawn and use specialized domestic robots to do some chores. If you look at how much many two income couples spend on the stuff enumerated above, it would easily total paying a person minimum wage or more full time.

Domestic help? That doesn't sound middle class to me. Maybe upper middle class. At least when I was growing up...

I guess we have higher expectations for our lifestyles these days.
Not sure how accurate this is, but on the old PBS/BBC program “1900 House" they made it sound like in the UK at least, you weren't really considered middle class at all until you hired a maid.

There was just so much housework to be done, the mother on her own (even with part-time help from her young daughters) was basically working sweatshop hours performing hard manual labor (no machines, just muscle power) just to keep up the bare minimum standards. A maid made it possible for her to entertain guests, and basically act like a middle class person.

Fodder

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #33 on: November 13, 2014, 09:44:40 AM »
Actually, I think it's a pretty good comparison. Most middle class house holds in the past had a domestic to help with chores and child care. For a variety of reasons, we're no longer comfortable having staff in our homes. So we send our kids to daycare or put them in school for ever longer hours, eat in restaurants, send our shirts to the dry cleaners, have someone come in and vacuum, buy convenience foods, get a landscaping service to mow the lawn and use specialized domestic robots to do some chores. If you look at how much many two income couples spend on the stuff enumerated above, it would easily total paying a person minimum wage or more full time.

Domestic help? That doesn't sound middle class to me. Maybe upper middle class. At least when I was growing up...

I guess we have higher expectations for our lifestyles these days.
Not sure how accurate this is, but on the old PBS/BBC program “1900 House" they made it sound like in the UK at least, you weren't really considered middle class at all until you hired a maid.

There was just so much housework to be done, the mother on her own (even with part-time help from her young daughters) was basically working sweatshop hours performing hard manual labor (no machines, just muscle power) just to keep up the bare minimum standards. A maid made it possible for her to entertain guests, and basically act like a middle class person.

A key difference though is the size of the middle class.  Today, most people would describe themselves as middle class.  That wouldn't have been the case in previous centuries.  Google tells me that historically, 80% of the population would have been considered working class, not middle class.  The middle class would have been more like the top 10-15% of earners.

NumberCruncher

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #34 on: November 13, 2014, 10:08:49 AM »

Quote
The reason my wife and I don’t cook our food is the same reason that we don’t hunt our food. These skills are no longer required to sidestep starvation. Cooking now ranks right up there with vacuuming—except that vacuuming removes a mess while cooking creates one. We have more efficient uses of our time and energy.

They don't vacuum either? Am I missing something? I guess robots or maids for them.

Among household tasks I dislike, vacuuming is pretty low on the list...just seems like a weird example to use, especially since it's a fairly low labor intensity activity with today's technology...kinda like cooking...okay, yeah, good example!

frugalnacho

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #35 on: November 13, 2014, 11:27:53 AM »
(Quoting and not linking for obvious reasons.)

I don't get it. Why aren't we linking to this article?

It's just my way of fighting the linkbait power. (And I don't think we can make nofollow links through the BB software.)

Then why post it at all? It's so ridiculous that if I came across it I would have simply dismissed it as the ramblings of a lunatic.  Surely no rational person would read that and think anything differently. 

senecando

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #36 on: November 13, 2014, 11:32:08 AM »
(Quoting and not linking for obvious reasons.)

I don't get it. Why aren't we linking to this article?

It's just my way of fighting the linkbait power. (And I don't think we can make nofollow links through the BB software.)

Then why post it at all? It's so ridiculous that if I came across it I would have simply dismissed it as the ramblings of a lunatic.  Surely no rational person would read that and think anything differently.

For pleasure. This subforum must be very confusing for you.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 11:58:41 AM by senecando »

myteafix

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #37 on: November 13, 2014, 11:37:21 AM »

I also agree, but I also get the hurdles that were mentioned earlier in this thread.  I've always been an intuitive cook - i.e., I can rhyme of lists of possible substitutions for almost any recipe or equipment.  My DH often remarks that he has no idea how I know these things (I also have no idea how I know these things....it just happened).  I can totally see how approaching a recipe when you have a poorly stocked kitchen and no cooking background could be intimidating.

But I also don't think it's an excuse.  There is so much information out there and so many blogs and websites that will help with everything from the most basic of dishes to an elaborate dinner party.  So when someone has the money to go out, and the time to go out, they don't get a lot of sympathy from me when they come whining that cooking is OMG SO EXPENSIVE AND TIME CONSUMING.  If you can consistently eat out, at $10+ a meal, and you ahve time to wait for takeout, then you totally have time and money to suck it up and learn to cook.

Totally agree. This is the age of the internet. There's an article out there for everything. Then, once you have that knowledge and experience under your belt, it doesn't take nearly as much conscious effort.

Sometimes the sheer amount of information on a topic can cause problems. Learning to cook is not the same as learning recipes. I helped a friend learn to cook (she grew up in a non-cooking household) and it wasn't just how to do things that she was missing but she lacked a basic feel for the standard patterns of dishes. Theoretically, once you know how to cook one bean soup, you should be set to cook just about any other kind of bean or vegetable soup because they have the same underlying pattern. Once you understand the basic pattern of a yeasted bread, you should be able to make just about any other kind of bread or pizza because they are also the same pattern. Similarly with quick breads or flat breads or various vegetable dishes. (And, truly, if you can cook a soup, a bread, and a vegetable, you have no need to eat out ever again.)

What I saw with her and what I see with other people is that they can't cook without a recipe because no one has taught them the theory or pattern underneath these recipes. So they get flustered if they don't have something or think it is a big production to make dinner because they have to buy all the ingredients and don't know how to substitute.

Teaching someone the pattern underneath dishes is just as easy as teaching them a recipe. But the internet is not flooded with cooking theory. It is flooded with recipes. This exacerbates the problem.

I do respect your point. There is an enormous amount of recipes out there, but if you don't know how to approach them, they won't do you any good.

However, it only took a few minutes of Google searches for me to find articles that seem an awful lot like cooking theory and kitchen basics:

How to Make Dried Bean Soup With No Recipe: http://www.harvesttotable.com/2012/04/how-to-make-dried-bean-soup-with-no-recipe/
How to Make Yeast Bread: http://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/tipslibrary/baking-tips/yeast-bread
The Well-Stocked Kitchen: Freezer, Fridge, and Pantry Staples: http://iowagirleats.com/2014/01/08/the-well-stocked-kitchen-freezer-fridge-and-pantry-staples/
Kitchen Essentials: http://www.pennywell.ie/blog/kitchen-essentials-infographic/
101 Simple Cooking Tips: http://www.simpletruth.com/community/blog/101-simple-cooking-tips/

These are not step-by-step recipes, but rather general rules and principles for preparing dishes or stocking your kitchen right.

And again, even these might not be enough, because some people learn better by being taught out loud and in person, rather than reading an article and having to visualize for themselves. But the resources are out there.

MoneyCat

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #38 on: November 13, 2014, 02:16:47 PM »
I don't understand all the snark.  Why doesn't everyone just eat out all the time and use your trust funds to pay for everything like this writer does? [/sarcasm]

Albert

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #39 on: November 13, 2014, 03:46:24 PM »
Actually, I think it's a pretty good comparison. Most middle class house holds in the past had a domestic to help with chores and child care. For a variety of reasons, we're no longer comfortable having staff in our homes. So we send our kids to daycare or put them in school for ever longer hours, eat in restaurants, send our shirts to the dry cleaners, have someone come in and vacuum, buy convenience foods, get a landscaping service to mow the lawn and use specialized domestic robots to do some chores. If you look at how much many two income couples spend on the stuff enumerated above, it would easily total paying a person minimum wage or more full time.

Domestic help? That doesn't sound middle class to me. Maybe upper middle class. At least when I was growing up...

I guess we have higher expectations for our lifestyles these days.

Are you old enough to have grown up in 20-ties and 30-ties? Later than that it wasn't a case anymore.

Serpentstooth is right about a widespread use of servants. I remember reading somewhere that in Victorian England 20% of workforce were domestic workers. The term middle class arouse later, I believe, but domestic help was a standard feature for professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers etc.

As you probably know this practice is still very common for upper middle class families in the Middle East and East Asia. Usually those are foreigners imported from poorer countries (Indonesia and Philippines is a common origin). Full domestic help is now rather rare in the West, but still many of my friends and colleagues (also upper middle class) employ nannies and cleaning ladies.

guitar_stitch

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #40 on: November 14, 2014, 08:56:26 AM »
Cooking has become a form of expression for me.  There's something very rewarding about starting with base raw ingredients and winding up with a delicious composition that satisfies.  When I add to that the quality of the ingredients I use and the fact that I can identify everything in my meals, I feel like the Van Gogh of the kitchen.  (Although there I times I end up more of a Picasso...Live and learn!)

An added benefit is while I am waiting on food to cook (time that would be spent driving and waiting on...food...to...cook...), I can accomplish other tasks.  Or I can sit and relax in the comfort of my own home.  No crying babies, rude patrons, noisy environments...  The temperature is always perfect in my house and there's nobody to tell me I can bring my dogs inside the restaurant.

I got over the "luxury" of eating out a while back.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #41 on: November 14, 2014, 09:55:38 AM »
Cooking has become a form of expression for me.  There's something very rewarding about starting with base raw ingredients and winding up with a delicious composition that satisfies.  When I add to that the quality of the ingredients I use and the fact that I can identify everything in my meals, I feel like the Van Gogh of the kitchen.  (Although there I times I end up more of a Picasso...Live and learn!)

bahahaha! totally agree! and on your other points as well. I'm sure it would be more stressful/less leisurely if we had kids, but I love just hanging out cooking dinner with my boyfriend.

Hunny156

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #42 on: November 14, 2014, 10:04:04 AM »
Yup, I totally agree.  I've always been the cook in our household, but on weekends or days when I got out of work late, we would often eat out.

I pretty much eat a whole foods, plant based diet these days, so eating out has become less attractive for me, both b/c of the cost and the quality of the food.  Hubby is still more inclined to eat out, just like he still eats meat when we do go out, so it is a process.

He does enjoy the food I make at home, and my recent addition of a pressure cooker to my kitchen has completely revitalized my love of cooking.  Being able to prep and then walk away from the kitchen while the pressure cooker does its thing is a total time saver and luxury!  Added benefit, our utility bills have dropped a bit, since the stove sees little use now.  No need to boil beans for 120 minutes, constantly stirring and keeping an eye on the water level, when 3/4 cup water and 14 minutes in the pressure cooker gets the job done!

Metta

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #43 on: November 14, 2014, 11:18:26 AM »
I do respect your point. There is an enormous amount of recipes out there, but if you don't know how to approach them, they won't do you any good.

However, it only took a few minutes of Google searches for me to find articles that seem an awful lot like cooking theory and kitchen basics:

How to Make Dried Bean Soup With No Recipe: http://www.harvesttotable.com/2012/04/how-to-make-dried-bean-soup-with-no-recipe/
How to Make Yeast Bread: http://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/tipslibrary/baking-tips/yeast-bread
The Well-Stocked Kitchen: Freezer, Fridge, and Pantry Staples: http://iowagirleats.com/2014/01/08/the-well-stocked-kitchen-freezer-fridge-and-pantry-staples/
Kitchen Essentials: http://www.pennywell.ie/blog/kitchen-essentials-infographic/
101 Simple Cooking Tips: http://www.simpletruth.com/community/blog/101-simple-cooking-tips/

These are not step-by-step recipes, but rather general rules and principles for preparing dishes or stocking your kitchen right.

And again, even these might not be enough, because some people learn better by being taught out loud and in person, rather than reading an article and having to visualize for themselves. But the resources are out there.

I fully agree. The internet is an amazing resource for all things. And thanks for pointing that out and including some links. It might even be fun to have a topic devoted to basic cooking links. Or perhaps that is way off-topic. :)  Wouldn't want to get foamy.

That said, there are some things that the Internet overflows with: cute cats, recipes, recipes that are little more than combining prepared foods, ginned up outrage, and so forth. You can find almost anything if you know to look for it. But I think that frequently the overflow from one category (in this case recipes) obscures the some of the really useful stuff that might require more thought to understand or take more work but would be more useful in the long run. I suspect that some novice cooks (especially those who are used to the instant gratification of restaurant food or take-out) are likely to be diverted by the flood of recipes and do not look for or even realize that there are underlying patterns to nearly all dishes. Also some of the useful resources I've come across sound intimidating to novices even though they are far from it when you actually read them.

I don't really know the solution to this problem other than kindness when coming across someone who is like this. I do come across many people like this and have heard some variation on The Case Against Cooking for years. Some I've helped find their way in the kitchen. Some not. One mysteriously (to me) decided to eat cereal and milk for every meal as her solution to the problem of having to save money on restaurants without learning to cook. To each their own.

MrsPete

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #44 on: November 14, 2014, 03:54:52 PM »
From a magazine you have definitely heard of and definitely don't read:
I have the impression the author would like me to feel a bit foolish because I LIKE to cook. 

I genuinely enjoy cooking -- so does my husband, though our interests don't overlap completely; for example, he's very into grilling, while I cook more vegetables. 

Last night I cooked a delicious pan of meatballs wrapped in cabbage leaves, covered with an incredible tomato sauce.  The homemade mashed potatoes complimented it perfectly.  My husband was practically standing by the oven drooling as he waited for his meal to cook.  Not only was that yummy, it was diabetic-friendly and preservative free.  And it cost about -- oh, about as much as one person's meal at a moderate restaurant.  PLUS we all had leftovers for lunch today.  I find it hard to find any fault in that story.
Think about it.. That servant class was washing clothes and dishes by hand.  Ironing was a real chore, and as for food, they made bread, noodles, soup, from scratch, and pickled and canned most everything too.

Even meat would have been purchased in large roasts, needing further cutting before cooking.  No fridge meant frequent grocery shopping +walking) etc.
Yeah, in the Victorian era one "measure" of the middle class was that they had THREE servants.  However, that bears no resemblance to our lives: 

Their servants got up early to light the fires; we have furnaces.
Their servants spent a whole day each week washing clothes and another ironing; we have washers and dryers.
Their servants baked all the bread, preserved and canned for the winter months, and generally spent a good bit more time cooking than we do; we have grocery stores filled with baked goods and fresh food all year long. 

Our lives aren't comparable. 

MayDay

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Re: "The Case Against Cooking"
« Reply #45 on: November 14, 2014, 06:41:44 PM »
The comparison, I think, is that in Victorian times servants lit fires did laundry all day, preserved all the food, etc. Today rather than that household labor, we have the labor of parenting children (as opposed to just keeping them alive until they are put to work). 

Obviously I am in favor of modern parenting, but it's a shitload of work, just like all that laundry used to be. And many middle class families do farm that out via daycare. 

Back to the topic of cooking, I find the planning in advance is the most critical to success. It's easy once you have a general rotation of recipes, know generally where to buy the ingredients, are familiar with the cooking techniques, etc. If you are trying to learn it all at once, it's hard.

The best thing for me was that in college my roommates and I each were in charge of cooking dinner once a week. So we had the considerably less overwhelming task of shopping for and cooking one meal. Then we had cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch.  But making one meal a week for a year taught me a whole bunch of meals by the end of the year! And takeout for 4 was expensive so heck yes I cooked!