Via my favorite anti-feminists, I found this article about another area in which Americans are getting dumber in, and of course the prepared-food corporations are more than obliging, even though it does inconvienence them a bit that we are too stupid to cook:
When the country’s top food companies want to create recipes that millions of Americans will be able to understand, there seems to be one guiding principle: They need to be written for a nation of culinary illiterates.
Basic cooking terms that have been part of kitchen vocabulary for centuries are now considered incomprehensible to the majority of Americans.
For a few paragraphs I read it and was all, “right on! We need to not be so lazy! Cooking is fun!” because cooking is fun (my favorite thing, after sex and physics, is the preparation and consumption of food, which is why I need to make my fourth favorite thing exercise). But, there was a reason Ladies Against Feminism liked this article, and we get to it by the bottom of the first page:
For many people, cooking classes like his compensate for what they did not learn at home. “Food companies have to acknowledge that there used to be a level of teaching in the home by moms and grandmas that is not as evident today,” said Janet Myers, senior director of global kitchens for Kraft Foods who has been creating and testing recipes for the company for 30 years.
A survey of women in their twenties and forties for Betty Crocker showed that 64 percent of women in their twenties had mothers who worked full time, outside the home, during their childhood, compared with 38 percent of those in their forties. The group in their forties primarily learned to cook from their mothers and at school; the younger women also learned from their mothers, but more of them learned from their fathers, television chefs, or on their own.
Do you see that mom? You went back to work and that’s why I only have a partial grasp on the concept of searing. I hope it was worth it!
Lisa Bernstein, 31, an employment law attorney in the District, said that while growing up, her mother was too busy to teach her much more than how to make spaghetti with sauce from a jar. Tired of microwaving frozen dinners, she signed up two years ago for lessons with veteran cooking teacher Phyllis Frucht.
Ok, I realize the journalists like to pick quotes that reinforce thier point, even if that means quoting a woman who apparantly spent her entire adult life eating frozen dinners rather than exploring any other “pot of boiling water and microwaved substance from jar” entrees available today-or expanding that to “something boiled served with meat,” since meat is among the most basic of all possible things to cook. (Instructions: get slab of meat. Apply heat until meat becomes uniform appetizing color and stops bleeding. If it turns black, try again but cook for less time. Serve warm.) How did Stouffer’s get the chicken to be all white like that? Hoooowwwww? Must be something you need crazy machines to do.
The problem of Lisa segues nicely to a dreamy reminice of days gone by, followed by a tsk-tsk what-has-the-world-come-to? on the subject of consumer science:
Some of these skills used to be taught in mandatory home economics courses in middle school, but most of the classes ended about 20 years ago, said Pat Lynn, a Springdale, Md., high school teacher who taught her first home ec class in 1968. But in some schools, including her own, home economics has been reconstituted under the umbrella subject of “family and consumer sciences” to include electives in cooking, parenting, fashion and career training for jobs in the food-service and hospitality industries.
God, first Mom, then the schools fucking left us high and dry! Except I did take a manditory home ec course in seventh grade (home ec and shop where mandatory for everyone in seventh grade, then we naturally and voluntarily divided along gender lines in eigth grade, except for the boys who took home ec to meet girls and those of us girls who took shop because we liked the electronics section and the class was easier to skip.) I still have the shark-shaped pillow I made, although the sewing skills that helped make the shark are long gone.
Still, this doesn’t seem to be a lack of home ec skills taught in school as much as it is a lack of problem-solving skills. Problem: I can’t cook. Solution A: Find a recipe (and, if necessary, a dictionary) and follow it untill it makes sense. Repeat with more complicated recipes until I can cook. Solution B: Sit here with my microwave and my helplessness until someone offers to solve my problem in exchange for money.
Luckily for the Ladies Against Feminism, the status quo remains firmly in effect:
And despite laments about the end of home cooking, more than three-fourths of all dinners are prepared in the home, with women doing the majority of the cooking, according to the latest figures from the research firm NPD Group.
Unfortunetly for LAF (in addition to ladylike behavior, they have strong perferences for thrift and a can-do, DIY attitude) the women doing the cooking are willing to spend scads of cash on magazines with recipes they can’t follow and gourmet cookware they don’t know how to use. Also, they prefer picture-based recipes, like the kind that come with an Easy-Bake Oven:
Interest in food is undiminished, as measured by magazines devoted to the subject (it’s the second-most-popular topic behind crafts and hobbies for new magazines launched in the past three years, said Samir A. Husni of the University of Mississippi) and in sales at gourmet cookware chains such as Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table.
Still, in test kitchens at food giants such as Kraft, the goal is terminology that is “simplistic, and very literal, to make it easy to understand,” Meyers said….
“They’ve grown up with the computer, so they expect things to be faster, including cooking,” said Botham, now director of corporate communication at the company. “They like baking by adding things to a mix. In recipes, they want fewer ingredients — seven is ideal — and they like step-by-step pictures that show them what to do.”
“Seven is ideal” Hasn’t it been like fifty years since Betty Crocker (or was it Duncan Hines?) managed to mainstream cake mix by switching from a just-add-water formula to add-eggs-and-water in order to trick housewives into feeling less guilt over using a mix? And here we are today, more sophisticated in that we need 5 extra ingredients in order to feel like were really cooking just like mom did. Excuse me while I go find some old people to lord it over.