Cooking For Sustanence v. [Not] Cooking While Obsessing About Food

This via Jacob Grier on the demise of Gourmet magazine. (Again the Jacob Grier thing. Apparently his brain and mine ruminate along parallel tracks).

I’ve  never heard of Grant McCracken. (Okaaayyy. The rest of you are rolling your eyes wondering where the hell I’ve been. I have no idea who the guy is.)(*1) (And no, I had not read a copy of Gourmet in years and years because it had nothing to do with my life.)

But I agree with McCracken’s take on cooking v. food. I already “knew” the point he makes. It’s been rammed home the past few months as my husband and I have laid the groundwork for remodeling our kitchen. (Okay. MY kitchen.) I’ve spent hours reading books about remodeling and magazines about kitchen remodeling in particular.

And come away from reading all this stuff about what-I-must-have-now in my kitchen thinking “Jayzuz gawd. Clearly no one actually uses these kitchens.” ‘Cause most of what passes for kitchen design and kitchen appliances these days is unusuable by anyone who, ya know, actually cooks. And I don’t mean someone who futzes endlessly fixing “gourmet” meals. I mean someone (like me) who actually prepares the food her family eats. (For more on this from me, check the “In the Kitchen” category in the archives box on the left of your screen.)

As I’ve noted here before, my household rarely goes out to eat. Whatever we eat, I chop, mix, dice, and cook right there in the kitchen.(*2) So my kitchen in a workspace. Not some wowzy, glitzy joint where people gather in front of their $2,000 stainless steel (do you have ANY idea how hard that is to keep clean?) refrigerators and drink groovy chardonnays while the host/hostess dish up take-out.

Anyway. I disagree with McCracken’s last point. He says that Americans

know more about food and they care more about food, but they are spending less time working with food.

I disagree. I think the bizarre state of the American kitchen is evidence that Americans don’t care about food. If they did, they sure as well wouldn’t spend money on crap like “pot filler faucets,” refrigerator drawers, and central-island cooktops.

Seriously. What sane cook wants the cooktop out in the middle of the kitchen with a gawking audience directly opposite, watching — and feeling — as the grease, steam, and heat wash over their faces?

Anyway. Nothing to do with anything. Just needed an outlet after a day in which I wrote 2300 words and read a large chunks of a monograph on anti-trust and a dissertation about the global nature of the nineteenth-century American livestock industry. Because that’s how I spend my days.


*1: Actually, his name rings a bell, but I think last time I heard it was a zillion years ago in grad school.

*2: Should you somehow have a mad craving to know more about my view about cooking, etc., by all means read my five-part rant on the subject. (I know. I know. NO ONE reads long blog entries. What can I say? It’s my way of justifying my existence.)

2 thoughts on “Cooking For Sustanence v. [Not] Cooking While Obsessing About Food

  1. Nodding in agreement while tucking into a bowl of home made lentil soup with a little Danish feta crumbled on top for a bit of salty creamy goodness…(yeah, I know about eating and reading!)I could get ranty mcpanty here too – if you’re putting in one of those new beaut commercial cookstop, oven – indoor barbeque combos with enough gas to lift a rocket you better also be installing a matching commercial/industrial strength range hood or the open plan-living kitchen-dining-retreat-alfresco-master bedroom-jacuzziarea-home theatre is going to be ponging of Tuesday’s curry well into the new year…I’m always reminded just how little you need to cook good food when I go camping. Sure I like the comfort of my kitchen, designed by me, for my family, but I’ve just done a cupboard clear in an effort to reduce the stuff we own – just keeping gear that makes me happy and that I enjoy using regularly. Feeling better already!We’ll have to compared kitchen design essentials one day M!

  2. “Ranty McPanty”! My new favorite phrase.But it’s so true about the orgy of kitchenalia. I’m splurging on some design components in the remodel (eg, we’re using bamboo for the flooring and cabinetry; far more sustainable than oak), but otherwise, I’m sticking with basic basics, if you know what I mean: basic cooktopand oven, GOOD faucet (’cause cheap faucets are a curse on mankind), etc. Because really, all I need is a flat surface, a sharp knife, and a gas flame, right?


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