Foodies Took All the Joy Out of Cooking
Within days of deciding that my spouse was “the one” a couple decades ago, I went out and bought The Joy of Cooking. It was like screaming to the rooftop—“I want to be this woman’s wife!” And since being a wife meant somewhere along the way I needed to provide a meal, I bought the one cookbook I knew could help.
I grew up with The Joy of Cooking. It said how to do stuff. What temperature to use. What to expect. And we had the war-era one that used margarine instead of butter and expected that you didn’t have ingredients to spare and wanted to cook frugally. We did! The only other cookbook I’d ever used was The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken. Good cookie recipes.
The thing you need to know is that when I met my wife I had one pan. I cooked in it and ate out of it. Rice. Potatoes. Pasta. Carbs were cheap. Fortunately, I also walked at least four miles a day and stood on my feet for eight-plus hours while at work, so all that starch didn’t stick to my hips.
My future wife, however, thought that food should have flavor, variety, sauces and spices. Ingredients I’d never heard of. Canned vegetables that made me want to gag. We had stuff to work out. And neither of us was all that handy in a kitchen.
So I was feeling fairly competent when I’d learned how to whip up a pasta salad, make meatloaf, pork chops and monkey bread, and cook batches of spaghetti sauce that folks were eager to ingest. I could provide! I could satiate hunger! I could put a balanced meal on the table in front of the wife and kids!
Then, the foodie fad flooded the nation.
OK, so it’s been around for awhile. But it used to be that only restaurants served “stupid food” (prettily arranged yet oddly assorted ingredients that won’t fill your stomach and cost the earth). Now regular humans are supposed to do this at home. For fun. To know arugula from oregano and cilantro from sesame. To keep balsamic vinegar in the cupboard and saffron on hand.
It used to be enough to make mashed potatoes, now they have to be garlic with a plum reduction.
I just can’t take the pressure.
The foodie thing is one of those either you are or you aren’t things. There are those who see a purpose in spending three hours on something that will be swallowed in ten minutes and take an hour of cleanup. And there are those of us who would eat cereal three meals a day given the choice, because we could keep using the same spoon and bowl by rinsing between meals.
I didn’t mind cooking and eating out of the same one pan.
Fortunately, we have no dyed in the wool foodies at our house (not that they’d survive on our diet), but we do have people who are food-friendly and adventurous eaters. Meaning everyone but me and the 8-year-old.
But bless the heart of the Rombauer/Becker family; they updated The Joy of Cooking in the 75th Anniversary edition. I bet there are instructions for using one of those mini-blow torches to scorch crème brulee, and listings for obscure vegetation that was considered unfit for human consumption back during the war.
Since I still want to stay married, I’d better go out and buy a copy.
Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)