Friday, March 19, 2010

pizza bump - it's not a dance

I have dedicated a good part of my life to the cause of home cooking.  I find the daily preparation of a variety of good tasting and nutritious food quite rewarding.  Even fun.  And for sure interesting.  I have no illusions that I am a typical American when it comes to my kitchen activity level.   I know that a lot of fine people do not share my enthusiasm about cooking at home, let alone cooking from scratch with real food.

But I have to admit I was discouraged when I learned a few days ago that the next new thing in ovens is a chicken nugget button.  (New York Times March 16, 2010)   You know, so people can "cook" chicken nugget dinners without having to think about time and temperature.  I imagine they microwave some kind of refrigerated mashed potatoes to go along with the nuggets.  Maybe there is a mashed potato button for that too.  Add some bagged salad with bottled ranch dressing and voila - dinner.   I just know there are generations of grandmas spinning in their graves,  wondering why we gave up on real cooking. (The answer is not lack of time.  These women did not have washing machines, electric ovens or disposable diapers, okay?)

Smart appliances are all the rage and sales of pots and pans and housewares are down.  Many countertop ovens now come with a "pizza bump" so they can accomodate frozen pizzas.  If I was making countertop ovens,  I would put in a pizza bump too.   Americans bought $4.4 billion worth of frozen pizza last year.  In 2000 they only spent 3.1 billion, but that was before the recession made eating at home more attractive.

On Jan. 6, the Minneapolis Star Tribune quoted Burt Flickinger III, a New York consultant who knows his pizza facts:  "You've got a generation that either doesn't like to cook or can't. They like to heat and eat." 

But like my Mom used to tell me, "Just because all the other kids are doing it doesn't make it right".  So I will soldier on, knife and peeler at the ready, putting daily meals on the table without the aid of a chicken nugget button. 

p.s.  Before you think I am a total outlier, let me assure you that the occasional frozen pizza makes itself into our house and into our oven, where we cook it after setting the time and temperature ourselves.  Tastes kind of good sometimes, especially after we doll it up with a lot of extra fresh vegetables and chopped cooked spinach.

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