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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: The Pleasure of Cooking from Scratch: A Dying Art?


Folks, I ⁢think we’ve ​got a crisis‍ on our hands. No, I’m not ⁤talking about the economy ​or ‍our discombobulated political scene. The inherent​ crisis I refer to springs from the heart of ‍our American kitchens. The art of cooking from scratch,⁣ a tradition rooted deeply in our cultural veins, seems to be withering away.

In the good‍ old days, entering a home and being wrapped in the mouth-watering aroma of ⁢simmering ​beef stew, ⁢the scent of freshly baked apple pie⁢ wafting through the rafters, was an experience that elicited joy, love, and ‌a sense of⁣ bonding. However, it ‍seems some algorithm on the ⁣ever-prevalent Silicon Valley contraptions decided that this time-honored practice is outdated, too time-consuming for the modern man’s ​hurried life.

I remember when I was⁢ just a knee-high tacker, standing on my tiptoes to watch my dad,⁢ a retired Navy chef and a Schenectady staple, work ⁣magic in our tiny kitchen. He peeled, diced, and chopped,‌ stirring the pot with the dexterity only​ decades of experience can craft. He conveyed a unique love language through‍ his ⁢meals⁤ – love that was savored,​ consumed, and ‍digested‍ by ‍the entire McCarthy‍ family.

I recall ⁤how⁤ Dad would squint at the falling snowflakes, mutter something‍ about stew ‍weather, and then proceed to conjure up a⁣ beef stew that ​would rival the fanciest French restaurants. The⁢ aroma would meander around the house, entangling ‍itself with the smell of old books⁤ and the wooden polish​ on our living ​room floor.

In ⁣my fifties now, although I don’t possess the same culinary⁢ brilliance as ‌my old man, I’ve picked⁣ up a thing or two. My signature chicken cacciatore is somewhat famous ⁢around Schenectady, a hodgepodge of a recipe that mother ‌jotted down on a‍ scrap ‌of paper and dad fine-tuned over the years.

Unfortunately, as I see neighbors zip into the driveway in a ​mad rush,⁢ only to zoom out a few minutes later with a ⁢greasy pizza box or a ​bag of fast food, my heart crumbles a bit each time. This isn’t about clinging​ onto nostalgic tastes but ⁢about the ‌slow erosion‍ of our culinary‍ heritage–a ⁤heritage grounded‌ in patience, passion, and⁢ creativity.

These ‍meals being replaced⁢ by quick​ fixes‌ or being supplemented ‍by bottled sauces present a woeful tale of a lost generation. A generation‌ deprived of‌ the textures and flavors of home-cooked meals, the pleasure of sharing a meticulously ⁤prepared family dinner.

The systematic‌ annihilation of scratch cooking is exacerbated⁢ by the general misconception of it ​being a laborious chore. ⁤A 2017 American Time Use Survey found that those ⁤who religiously cook and clean up spend a median of 1.1 hours per ⁤day⁣ compared to those ​who don’t, who, ironically, still spend 21 minutes on food. Sure, you save about‍ three quarters of an hour by opting for ready-made meals, but what you⁣ lose⁤ are irreplaceable moments of togetherness, nourishment, and self-satisfaction.

Our⁤ food culture is transforming into a hasty grab-and-go affair. The‌ convenience of pre-packaged ⁤meals and the alluring pull of fast food chains are undoubtedly appealing. But as ⁢we forfeit the intimacy ‍of home-cooked‌ food,⁣ we ⁤also‌ lose ⁤a fundamental part of what it means to be human:‌ the ability ​to derive nourishment,⁣ both physically and emotionally, from preparing a meal with our own⁤ hands.

I pen this not as a righteous sermon, ⁢but as an emphatic ⁤plea: let’s⁢ not become a society​ that relegates the joyful process of ​food⁢ preparation and the essence of nourishing our families and ourselves to ⁤the aisles of microwave⁢ meals. Let’s not⁣ surrender‍ our‍ kitchens to machines and automated gadgets that rob us of the tactile pleasure of⁤ kneading dough or ⁢the⁢ mesmerizing swirls ‍of a homemade sauce simmering on the stovetop.

Let’s reclaim‍ the dying tradition of ​scratch ⁢cooking, let’s make ⁢the kitchen‌ the lifeline ⁤of our homes once again, and let’s‍ gift‌ our children with a legacy of cooking. This isn’t about being ​the next Julia Child or Gordon Ramsay, it is about the comfort of a cherished, familiar fare that only a family kitchen can provide.⁢ Remember, ⁤folks, lovingly sautéed ⁢onions and freshly minced garlic beats a sauce from a ‌jar any day.

I might be ‍just a grumpy old ​man from​ Schenectady, ‌wondering where all the good times have gone;​ but maybe, it’s time we reevaluate the value of the spice-scented, love-filled ⁢kitchens of the ​good old days. As for me, you’ll find⁢ me in my kitchen, trying and possibly failing, to ​replicate my dad’s legendary ​beef stew.

Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
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