In the grand tradition of
self-delusion looking at the bright side, let’s take a look at an interesting story from today’s Free Press:
Stacy Sloan, director of culinary education at Holiday Market’s Mirepoix (mihr-PWAH) Cooking School, says that because of the dismal economy, she had expected sales for this year’s cooking classes to be flat or worse.
But the opposite has happened.
Yes, basic cooking classes at this specialty market in Royal Oak are full, mainly with students who have never cooked for themselves before, and are using the recession as a motivation to eat out less and eat in more. The other day I was stopped outside Kroger by a market researcher, who offered me $10 for a five-minute interview on video; one of her questions was whether I’m eating out less. I said not really, that one pitfall of recessionary economies is their self-perpetuation, as people curtail their spending and by doing so make the situation worse. But I certainly understand the impulse, and to the extent it gets a few more adults comfortable around knives, cutting boards and saute pans, so much the better. There’s something amusing about seeing people learn the simplest things. Last quote:
“You can start out with a roast chicken as one meal and make other meals from it,” he says.
I imagine this guy, getting this idea, bathed in pure white light. I’m glad my mother was cremated, so I can’t hear her rolling in her grave.
But seriously: Home cooking = good. I’ve been doing my nightly news-farming for three years now, and one story I’ve seen grow from nothing in that time to something that alarms even me is the contamination of the U.S. food supply. We’re under another salmonella cloud, this one from peanut butter. Here’s what I find interesting: Most super-market peanut butter is fine, provided you’re not buying in five-gallon buckets. It’s the peanut-butter products that are transported in tanker truck-size loads that are the problem, which is why the recalls are for things like those neon-orange snack crackers you buy from vending machines, and not the jar of Crunchy in your pantry.
It’s best, if you eat processed food, not to think too much about it. I think I’ve told Alan’s many entertaining stories of his college years, spent working in various food-processing plants before. What they’ve done is made him unwilling to eat certain brands of canned soup and frozen pizza. Other people I’ve known have worked everywhere from commercial dairies to candy factories, and none of them eat the stuff they used to make, either. Best line, from my ex-candy making friend: “Chocolate is the opposite of scotch. You’ve got to learn to dislike it.”
But salmonella’s only the beginning. The other day I bought a package of ground chuck for the Derringer family’s dirty little dinner secret: Family Taco Night. As it was going over the scanner I noticed a package sticker I hadn’t read: Product of U.S.A., Canada and Mexico. Ewww. (I made sure that stuff was well-frickin’-done, believe me.) Globalization and open markets mean your supermarket snack cake may be made from ingredients gathered around the world, many in countries where food-safety regulation is, um, flexible. How did melamine get into the food supply? Chinese entrepreneurs found it raised protein levels while costing less than actual protein, with poisoning being merely an unfortunate side effect. This sort of corner-cutting is an established business practice in the Asian economy. Bon appetit.
I see Mark Bittman has a new book out, and unlike the more abrasive Michael Pollan and elitist Alice Waters, he seems to have an actual understanding of how average Americans actually live their lives. The diet he advocates — less crap, more plants — is one most people can manage, if they have rudimentary cooking skills. To the extent these classes are helping make that happen, huzzah.
I’m off to learn Final Cut Pro — be there soon, Rob — so here’s a bit o’ bloggage:
I see quite a few snarkers took note of Dick Cheney’s wheelchair and made the usual jokes, most of them about Dr. Strangelove. They’ve got it all wrong. This is the cultural reference you’re looking for:
Rich jerk suicide watch: Another one, this one a so-called Celtic Tiger. Tigers elsewhere
call him a pussy denounce him as unworthy of big cat-hood.
What do you get when you knock on the door of a house with a “fresh coons” sign in the yard? Why, you get a recipe:
“You soak him in vinegar and water, soak it four, five hours, and that get the wild game taste out of it. After that you cut him up just like you cut up a rabbit, then you preboil it about a half-hour, let the water jump about a half-hour, then take him out, put him in a pan like that, get your seasoning on, then you put him in the oven, just like you do a roast.”
Yes, folks, it’s another gem from Detroitblog. (BTW, I can’t tell you how many reporters of my acquaintance would have failed to write down the best line of that passage — “let the water jump about a half-hour.” Poetry.)
It’s the first day of the rest of the Obama administration. Mark it however you will.