As I think I’ve mentioned before, we don’t eat canned soup in our house. Alan once spent a summer working the Campbell’s soup factory in Napoleon, Ohio, an experience that put him off canned soup once and for all. (He also worked in a pizza factory for a spell. Don’t get him started.) Because I really like soup, this led to me having to learn how to make it from scratch. The good news is, homemade soup is so much better than the canned variety that the bad news — yes, it takes longer than opening a can and heating it on the stove — is entirely eclipsed. We eat soup throughout fall and winter and into the spring, and I don’t resent any of the time and effort spent to make it myself.
Which brings me back around to Blue Apron, which we chewed over a few weeks back, and something else that bothers me about it.
I poked around on their website for a bit, which is the extent of the research I’m willing to do about it. Here’s a vegetarian offering, for cauliflower “steaks” and farro salad:
This dish highlights the delectable potential of one of autumn’s most abundant vegetables: cauliflower. We’re roasting thick slices until they develop a crisp, golden crust and a tender, sweet interior. Our “steaks” get an elevated topping of juicy grapes, toasty hazelnuts and fresh rosemary quickly cooked in a brown butter sauce, which also lends its incredible flavor to a hearty farro and arugula salad. A pinch of fennel pollen (an intensely aromatic spice with notes of citrus and sweet anise) completes the dish with sophisticated flair.
Sounds delicious. But if Blue Apron and similar services are being used as a crutch, or an intermediate step by young and busy people toward actual kitchen independence, they are going about it all wrong, in my opinion. Fennell pollen is not an ingredient that should be in a beginner’s kitchen, or even, it could be argued, any kitchen.
You want to cook more at home? Start with soup. Easy-peasy. You have the stuff that gives the soup its name (tomatoes, squash, chicken and noodles, whatever) and the stuff it floats in (clear broth, cream/milk), and that’s pretty much it. You can mash up some of the first stuff to make it thicker, but that’s up to you. Play around with it, figure out what you like, and move on from there. No need for fennel pollen.
So, we can discuss cooking today, or we can talk about the business genius involved in throwing a few more millions of taxpayer dollars at a company, so it’ll make a show of staying in Indiana. And all this from the party that said government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers. All bets off.