Michael Pollan, author of several well-researched books on American food and eating, recently said in an interview that Americans are making cooking a "spectator sport." And thus many are becoming intimidated by the world's oldest nurturing activity, as if it is the province only of flashy chefs with obscure ingredients at their knife points.
BBC America carries a slew of Chef Gordon Ramsay's shows, including one in which he invites to his restaurant a big crowd of youngish women in an effort to "get women back in the kitchen." The dishes he does for that show are relatively simple and quick to do, especially if you are accustomed to working fast and efficiently in the domain that many women determinedly tried to escape for years. But...several women interviewed still felt that cooking takes much more time than they have available.
What a dilemma--from being tied to the stove in the olden days, with tiny kids awash in a probably cramped house, to today when many have mega kitchens in which they barely prepare coffee, women are....what? Continuing the rebellion?
Apparently this is where Rachael Ray and her 30 minute meals come in. I have not seen the show but have read it being put down in some of the foodie press because Ms Ray has been known to use the odd can of mushroom soup in a recipe, poor retro thing...
People have always been amazed that I regularly cook freshed mashed potatoes. How this simple food became complicated, I do not know. In the time it takes me to peel a few spuds, cut them up "small" and toss them in water, an acquaintance can still be kvetching away about the lack of time for such a gourmandish and outlandish undertaking.
Ramsay grills, steams or sautees much of his food, all quick cooking methods no matter what. Yes, one must peel and chop some veg, maybe even wash lettuce, but this can be done while yacking with one's kids, sipping a glass of wine. We're not talking about stuffing ravioli or baking bread, those these activities, too, can be speedily done with decent planning.( Not so much by impatient me.)
Maybe it's time for a reality cooking show featuring dozens of average unfamous mortals who are competent and swift in the kitchen--with the final 5 minutes always showing a family or group of friends at table, enjoying the food, community and conversation.
Who does not have enough time for that, at least once or twice a week?
ps One of my pet bugaboos and a huge timewaster, is the American habit of involving their kids in organized sports, and attending practices, snoozing through every game, weekend after weekend.We did it too, friends, until finally the light dawned--the kid was a decent goalie but was never going to be of those gifted and balding World Cup goalkeepers--so as a family we took golf lessons, signed up for racketball sessions at the gym and so on. Lifetime sports! What a notion.
This left much more time for whipping up cranberry walnut bread and making scalloped spuds.