Archive for Wednesday, February 21, 2001

This ‘crisis’ is all about the art of cooking

February 21, 2001

Our Nation is in serious trouble. The problem is more insidious than drugs, single parent families and XFL football. If we don't do something fast, we will lose both our current generation of adults and the children that follow. We are marching toward the annihilation of culture as we know it toward a dank and dismal existence of mediocrity and hopelessness. We must act now!

The problem is not obvious to most. It hides itself in the guise of convenience in this fast paced world. It touts the benefits of this convenience, yet is working tirelessly to undermine our national heritage so that we become automatons at the mercy of Madison Avenue and a sub-current that will make us pliable for take over by the fanatics of the future. In a word, we are forgetting what it means to cook.

Anyone looking at me would be able to tell that I like food. Good food, junk food, take out or eat in it makes no difference to me. However, I really take offense at the commercials that try to tell me that packaged, frozen, ready-to-microwave meals are "as good as homemade". I have eaten C-rations, K-rations, LRRP rations (freeze dried meals for military types that spend a long time in the bush), and MRE's (meals, ready to eat) during my tenure in the Armed Forces. They go from really bad to just passable when it comes to making you think you have had something to eat. About the best I can say for them is that they provide you with the nutrients necessary to stay alive until Uncle Sugar lets you get some place where they really cook food.

The choices in the frozen food case at the local grocer are ranked right along with those non-choices that have been forced on me by circumstances beyond my control.

I understand that homes with two working parents demands simplicity at meal time. Single parent families are to be applauded for just getting a meal on the table, so hard is the task of taking care of children alone. But the confusing part of it all is that I have discovered that people really prefer the frozen cased wonders to the real thing. Rapidly disappearing are those nights when parents and children spend hours in the kitchen working on preparing a meal. The laughter as tears flow when chopping fresh onions, or wiping flour from the face of one more exuberant when baking is being silenced by the sound of the microwave humming its poison into our ears.

Okay. I know that a trip to Mickey D's is a child's delight. I expect it has much to do with the fact that they don't serve peas and the chance to drip condiments down the front of the best shirt in the closest is a temptation not to be withstood. That is normal for kids. But what about adults? Why do so many of us prefer the "instant" to the "homegrown"?

Personally, I think it is a conspiracy led by the freezer manufacturers of the world. They are trying to change our ability to recognize good food. They know that if we eat that stuff long enough, we won't be able to tell the difference. Even worse, we will come to prefer the substitute for the real thing. Before too many years have past, we will find ourselves listening to taste tests by androids in lab coats and actually believing that the frozen microwave meal is better than one prepared at home, complete with freshly sliced and diced ingredients, simmering in a pan on the stove. By that time, we will be ready for wafers parceled out from the back of dump trucks as we mob the streets to get our ration of Soylent Green.

The future looms bleak on the horizon. The time to act is now. Tonight, or at least no later than this week-end, we must all gather our families in the kitchen with fresh ingredients, spices, cooking tools and a great sense of adventure. We must cook like there is no tomorrow, so that our children will know the joy of cooking and our world as we know it will be saved. It is up to all of us to save our nation. Besides, should the adventure in this new art form prove unpalatable, Sonic is open late.

Monte the Dancing Bear. Baldwin City Recreation Commission, 820 High Street; Phone, 594-3670; e-mail,

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