Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ambition and the kitchen

Really? I mean, fine, the everything-must-be-from-scratch brigade needs a dose of pragmatism and could stand to lose the sanctimonious tone. And yes, if you live near an Amy's, you don't need to bake your own baguettes. But seven hours a week preparing food seems a harmless enough trade-off, considering how much less you'll spend (esp. if your preferred meal is pasta) and how much more control you'll have over the ingredients - important whether your concern is taste, health, or both.


Britta said...

Exactly. The other thing is, cooking, even meatloaf, need not be time consuming (it's mixing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, dumping it in a pan, and baking for 45 minutes, during which you can go off and do something else). There are tons of really quick things you can cook. You can make a simple pasta sauce for around the same amount of time you can dial in takeout. Baking brownies or a cake from scratch takes as much time as making one from a mix, and buttercream frosting is foolproof and can be made in two minutes with a hand held mixer. I feel like people who don't cook and recent converts to the cook for yourself school both reinforce the idea that cooking is this difficult, arduous, often costly mystical process where you must spend hours for often unpredictable results. The truth is, unless you attempt some really complicated ambitious project, cooking isn't that hard, and the more cooking you do, the better you get and the easier and quicker it is.
Plus, cooking really is something you can do when you have a bit of free time and then freeze the results--pesto, soups, pasta sauce, etc. can all be made in huge batches and frozen for months, and since it takes about the same amount of time to make a small amount of soup as it does a large amount, in terms of time per serving, you can get it down to the same amount of time as ordering a big mac. Not to mention--if a restaurant is staying in business, they are making a profit on what you eat, so no matter how cheap it is, you can make it cheaper (or for the same price with better ingredients) at home.

Phoebe said...


All true.

I should add that reason I tagged the post "gender studies" was in part because of the source (Slate's girl-blog), but also because I think the idea that a few moments in the kitchen will ruin a budding career is basically a generation-specific interpretation of feminism. Because cooking was once part of that-which-kept-women-back, the entire activity gets stigmatized for men and women alike, but especially for women. It's just a variant of the idea that having (hetero) romantic relationships is too much of a distraction for a woman serious about her work. Women of my generation need to remind those of our mothers' that neither a batch of brownies nor a boyfriend necessitates dropping out of school or quitting one's job.

Belle Lettre said...

That is the stupidest bit of concern trolling I've read this week. I guess "cooking" doesn't count as a "personal project." Cooking is how I "connect with peers"--dinner parties, dinner with my boyfriend every night, cooking together, etc. I guess I could put in extra hours at work, because you know, that makes me so much happier than eating healthfully and satisfying my creative streak while letting me do something with my hands. I am under 35, and there's a far cry between being all fancy pretentious and up in that (or seasonal/local/sustainable/slow foodie) and learning good skills and basic home cooking--like how to feed yourself well and keep a grocery budget and menu plan and entertain. I guess I could have waited till 45 to learn how to cook using more than a George Foreman grill and a microwave, but I choose not to live like I'm still in college.

I hate how far Slate has gone down the tubes. As high of hopes I had for Double X, it really is the pink ghetto of female blogging--apart from Dahlia Lithwick and Hanna Rosin, who's worth reading on there? Why do they hire such poor writers? Why does it seem so separate from the rest of Slate (which has also been going downhill, but less calamitously). I was worried when they shunted off XX Factor to a separate blog, and now they're trying to regroup it back, but nope--ghettoized.

Phoebe said...


A boyfriend and cooking? For shame! (I kid, obvs.)

As for Slate, it would be a start if the blogs actually existed at one URL (DoubleX exists at at least two, it seems), and if they could decide whether to go with comments or "Fray." And... I like Yoffe as well. But that's about it.