Monday, October 10, 2011

The Art of Cooking, Part I

The Art of Cooking Part I

I was corresponding with a friend of mine and we hit upon one of the problems of eating healthily.  Many people do not know how to cook. 

Every day I will see a young man (or woman) who weighs a great deal more than he/she should.  I will take a diet history and inevitably find out that he/she eats out for almost every single meal.  Not only does he eat out,  but he eats at  McDonalds or other fast food restaurants.  When asked why, he inevitably tells me that he doesn’t know how to cook. 

This always blows my mind.  I grew up in a house where my mother cooked but also put Stouffers frozen sides up on a pedestal.  She made Stouffers sides all the time.  Most of them were not bad.  She did know HOW to cook, but often she was too busy to REALLY cook every night.  I remember at 14 years of age asking permission over the phone while she was at work, to make stuffed pork chops. Now, I had never cooked an entire meal before this. I wanted to learn how to cook, so I went to, (what else?) the Joy Of Cooking!   We had an ancient copy that was dog eared and stuffed with papers with hand written recipes in it from my grandmother.  My SOUTHERN Grandmother.  My NORTHERN (Irish) grandmother was not a fabulous cook.  She boiled things to death and always left an ingredient out of the recipe for the  few things she made well.  They were never quite as good as hers.  Infuriating.

Unfortunately, stuffed pork chops were a bit above my level as a novice cook.  I used twine to sew them closed.  I think my father was picking twine out of his teeth for a week after that.  I didn’t get too discouraged though, and kept trying. 

My Mother taught me the basics of chopping and slicing and sauteing and frying and broiling.  She was the QUEEN of broiling.  She was known to remind us daily that we needed a meat, a starch, and a vegetable with every dinner.  She also served up a quarter of a head of iceberg lettuce with tomatoes as our salad every night.  I still hate iceberg lettuce.  We also had milk with every meal. 

 I can still make a mean southern fried chicken and fried pork chops with white gravy.  I only do that once every couple of years because you can actually FEEL your coronary arteries close as you eat it.  Yum. 

I digress.

There is so much on the internet now.   There are even VIDEOS showing you how to saute, broil, fry, chop, etc. You don’t even NEED a mother to teach you how to cook!  I once found  a cookbook called, “Help, My Apartment Has a Kitchen In It!”  It was hilarious but had some pretty good recipes and taught techniques in it.  There was a lot of motherly advice in it.

I’m not quite sure what is causing this phenomenon of not cooking.  When I was a kid, there weren’t restaurants on every corner, and foreign food was Italian or Chinese.   You HAD to eat at home because there weren’t that many restaurants.  Fast food was a big treat. Is this why people don’t cook now?  Is it because they can walk around the corner and get good tasting cheap food? (Note:  I didn't say that it was good FOR you)  Is it the “food deserts” where there are no big chain grocery stores?   Is it that we are working longer hours and are exhausted?  Is it that Moms and Dads and their spouses are both working full time?  I think it is not a simple question.  I’m sure people smarter than I am are looking at this very question.  I hope they solve it.

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