Home Cooking/Kitchen Live On Less Money Download Free Images The Adventures of Sputnik VonWiskars

Reclaiming The Kitchen






What is Cooking?

Do you know how to cook? Do you enjoy cooking? Do you even know what cooking is?


The American Heritage Dictionary defines the verb cook as “To prepare food for eating by applying heat.”


In Today's society, this definition could apply to many activities that one wouldn't generally consider to be "cooking".


What Counts?

So what really does “count” as real cooking? The question is not really as simple as it may sound. Let’s take, for example, the case of the spaghetti dinner. Now, one could prepare a spaghetti dinner in numerous ways, but which of them really “counts” as cooking?


We could go to the grocery store and buy the spaghetti from the deli, put it on a platter and serve it to our guests. Now surely this wouldn’t count because we didn’t have to do anything at all.


So, to make it one step harder, we could buy a canned, frozen or otherwise pre-packaged spaghetti dinner, take it home, heat it using the microwave, stove top, or oven, put it on a platter and serve it to our guests. Now, we’re a little bit closer here, because we are applying “heat” to the food as required by our dictionary definition. But really, this shouldn’t “count” should it? After all, no real preparation on our part was required.


Perhaps in order to make it count, we need to go one step further. We can buy a package of dried spaghetti from the store and a jar of spaghetti sauce. We then take it home, boil the spaghetti, and heat the sauce, combining them on our platter and serving them to our guests. Now, we’re getting a little bit closer here, but really, spaghetti sauce from a jar shouldn’t really count should it?


Instead, we could buy a package of spaghetti, boil it, and then make the sauce by combining several cans of tomato sauce, paste, and diced tomatoes with some garlic, herbs, an onion, and perhaps some mushrooms, sausage or other meat. Surely this counts as cooking doesn’t it? Well, on second thought, we did use canned tomatoes, and what about that package of spaghetti? If we were really cooking for real, we’d have to start from scratch.


So to get our real home-made spaghetti dinner we’d have to buy the flour and make the spaghetti from hand. Then we’d have to blanch the fresh tomatoes, remove their skins, chop them up and cook them down for several hours, adding onion, and herbs etc. Now, do we finally have home-made spaghetti? Well, we did use a pasta-making machine to make the spaghetti, and what about those dried herbs from a jar, shouldn’t we have used fresh ones? And we did start with pre-milled flour when we could have ground it ourselves….


One could take this argument to absurd levels. In reality, trying to decide what “counts” and doesn’t is really a pointless endeavor, and the distinction isn’t really a useful one. In today’s society, we’re surrounded with so many products at so many different levels of preparedness that there is really no meaningful place to draw the line.


Furthermore, difficulty is not a pre-requisite for cooking. Just because you made it more difficult, doesn’t mean that you made it any better, or healthier, or cheaper, or more “home-made”.


Perhaps a more meaningful way to look at it is this. Each step in the process of food preparation that we allow someone else to do for us, is a step where we allow someone else to make the decisions about that food preparation for us. Sometimes we care about those decisions, and sometimes we don’t. Which decisions you care about is completely up to you. 


Copyright 2006 Mercantilium.com. For questions, comments or site problems please contact webmaster@mercantilium.com