If you are over 50 years old, you probably have memories of growing up in a world where people cooked, and had family dinners. Most families only went out for special occasions back then. Dinner time was an important family social function. Showing up late for dinner was a major insult to the rest of the family, and serious repercussions often resulted. And everybody knew how to do basic cooking. I can remember when anyone over the age of 10 knew how to make biscuits, gravy, and cook rice. If you didn’t, there was something wrong with you. Most of my generation, both guys and girls, began learning how to cook as soon as you could stand up to the stove. I am not talking about just opening a package and sticking it into the microwave oven….there were no microwave ovens then.
In the 21st century, with instant communication, and the entire worlds knowledge at your fingertips via the internet, including recipes and cooking techniques from all over the world, why is it that so many people are unwilling, or unable to cook? I am approached by people all the time in stores and other places with requests on how to do the most basic culinary procedures, and I have to wonder….can anyone cook anymore? I give classes and seminars on cooking all the time, and I am constantly amazed at the lack of even the most basic culinary skills demonstrated by my new students.
On cable television, there are countless TV ‘cooking’ shows that have more in common with Roller Derby than with Culinary Art, such as Iron Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen. They are a far cry from the wonderful, informative shows from the 60s like Julia Child, Graham Kerr, and Justin Wilson. Couple that with restaurants like Benihana’s Bruce Lee-style Stir Fry, and it would seem that cooking has become a spectator sport for the masses, relegating actual cooking to the realm of the professionals only.
How did this happen? It can’t be because basic cooking is too complicated. I still believe that anyone can cook, if they will try. You don’t have to be a Master Chef to cook pasta and sauce at home. Basic biscuits only have 4 ingredients in them, and can be prepared from scratch in less than 5 minutes, plus around 20 minutes cooking time. Likewise pancakes, and most other everyday foods. So why are there so many people that don’t know how to cook?
While I was doing research for this article, I came across a website that actually listed 10 reasons why you should not cook. The reasons listed were that:
- Groceries cost money (and eating out doesn’t?)
- Cooking is time-consuming (so is taking a shower, cleaning house, etc…so what?)
- Eating out promotes family bonding, and you don’t have to clean up after the children (huh???? How does that promote bonding? and parents are supposed to clean up after their kids. We used to call that responsibility, and setting examples…)
- When cooking at home, you might not follow all the sanitation rules (so, does the author not clean their bathroom because they might not follow sanitation rules…?)
- Life can get too much into a routine: Working-cooking-cleaning-working…..Eating out provides surprises (yeah, especially if you saw what they were probably doing to your food in the kitchen in those cheap diners you will have to eat at, unless you are rich)
- Your food may not be good. (Neither may the restaurants….)
- If you cook something bad at home, you have to pay for it again to re-do it. Restaurants will replace it at no cost (only if they have something better. I can’t count the number of restaurants I’ve walked out of, still hungry…)
- Enjoy life and live like a queen or king. Have someone cook and clean for you (unfortunately, most of us are not that privileged, and have to work for ourselves to get by….)
- It gives you time to bond with your spouse. Since there is not cooking or cleaning, you can sit next to each other, or watch a movie (or listen to them grip about never having any money, because it was all spent eating out, and on cleaning services….)
- You work hard for your money. Spend it on yourself…(and sit in the dark after they cut your electricity off….)
This website really disturbed me, because it seems to echo the sentiments of the generation that followed my Baby Boomer peers. Somehow, people seemed to get selfish..the me generation, where there is no responsibility (everyone is a victim), and the world owes them a living, etc… It appears to be reinforced by the media, public schools, and day care centers. It almost seems like a plan to make everyone dependent on outside services. Now, I am not a Conspiracy Nut, but I can observe what goes on around me and make logical deductions. People have become significantly less self-sufficient over the last 40 years, in the US, anyway.
I don’t know why this has happened, but the trend needs to be reversed. Being self-sufficient is one of the core values that made this country great. If you don’t know how to cook, learn it. The best website on the internet is YouTube. They have instructions and demonstrations on how to prepare, cook, and bake, just about anything you’d ever want to try. I am talking virtual hands-on instruction here, like what you would have to pay thousands of dollars at a cooking school to learn, otherwise. There’s is nothing like the satisfaction you get when a dish turns out right. And, I say again….anyone can cook. Maybe you can’t make souffles, but a 6 year-old can make biscuits (with adult supervision, of course). Cooking beans (dry, not canned), rice, potatoes, and making salads are within anyone’s skill levels, as well as hamburgers, hot dogs, and most casseroles. There is just no excuse not to be able to feed yourself and your family.
I’ll get off of my soapbox now. If you didn’t get anything else out of this article, then get this. Learn how to do basic cooking. Outside services may not always be available. Ask some of the New Orleans refugees from Hurricane Katrina……