Monday, August 27, 2012

Cooking Is Labor

I normally find Slate kind of tiresome to read, but this article about home cooking is bang-on accurate. Tracie McMillan points out something most advocates of home-cooking ignore--quotidian cooking is labor, just as much as laundry or cleaning.

CodeMonkey works much longer hours than I do, so the housework largely falls to me. I enjoy cooking, but churning out dinner after a full day of work, bookended by subway commutes, is a chore. Part of why I struggle with the temptation to eat out is because it's so much easier in the short term. Cooking or food prep probably takes 10 hours or more out of my week and I use convenience foods and don't bake. My mother probably spent twice that much time every week when she had young children, between the cooking and scratch baking. I fully understand why people choose to eat out often instead. And I'd probably hate cooking a whole lot more if I didn't have the money to get takeout on the days where I'm wrung out and the prospect of making dinner makes me want to cry.

As McMillian points out, cooking doesn't just require time and energy, it requires a specific skill set. I grew up cooking and baking and still had a lot to learn when I moved out. But I had a foundational set of skills I could use to start cooking better meals. CodeMonkey never cooked before we met, and my in-laws don't cook either. He didn't know how to dice an onion; he didn't now to level off a scoop of flour to get an accurate measurement; he hadn't the least notion of how to retrieve a pan from the oven without burning himself. No one of those problems are insurmountable (and he can now do all of them) but there are dozens of these techniques and they provide the vocabulary of cooking and learning them adds another layer of difficulty to becoming a competent home cook.

I don't know where this is going. It was a good article. Go read it.

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