With apologies to Jeanette, Gut Check's resident Gordon Ramsay fan, I had to share this:
Slate has a review of Ramsay's new family-friendly cookbook, Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food. Writer Laura Shapiro eviscerates the book, calling b.s. on the notion that Ramsay cooks these meals for his own family and that while this isn't a cookbook you'd normally call "food porn", Americans, at least, will probably buy it without any intention of making its recipes. Shapiro then criticizes the entire genre of "quick" cookbooks -- 30-Minute Meals, 10-Minute Meals, etc.
After the jump, an excerpt and an additional thought on the matter.
From the article:
"Five minutes means 5 minutes," declares Rocco DiSpirito in Rocco's 5 Minute Flavor, adding, "Prep time is not included in the 5 minutes, but I was careful to choose ingredients that require virtually no preparation." True--he uses plenty of cans and jars--but what about the three red onions to be cut into rings exactly 1/5 an inch thick? Rummage around too long for a ruler, and you're already 90 seconds into the recipe with nothing to show for it.
Shapiro concludes, rightly, that no shortcut is as helpful in the kitchen as knowing how to cook. But I think there's an even greater flaw inherent in these quick-and-easy cookbooks -- though it's not really a problem the cookbook authors created, per se, so much as a larger issue in our society that they are exploiting.
Cooking at home shouldn't be about convenience. If you treat dinner as something to wedge between your evening commute and CSI, it will sate your hunger, yes, but leave you (if you'll allow me a little pretension here) spiritually unfulfilled. Unfortunately, our society isn't going to reverse its now-now-now mentality any time soon, if ever, so cookbook authors will continue to profit on our desire for "30-minute" meals.
Of course, when even those meals are too involved, the people who really profit our the makers of processed foods. Why bother with a 30-minute meal when you can nuke that burrito in 30 seconds?
P.S. I realize I'm preaching to the Slow Food choir here. Guess I'm just in the mood to rant.
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