Sunday, August 2, 2009

Future Shock

When I went away to college about 30 years ago, there were no laptops, no ipods, no Apples, no GPS systems. Mr. Hunting Creek and I had to find our way to Berkeley alone. Our parents did not drop us off or attend any orientation functions. We were on our own. Parents in those days threw some money at you and expected you to figure stuff out. Sink or swim, people!
Of course among the many things I packed, besides clothes and sheets and towels, were cookbooks and my sewing machine and patterns. I forgot to bring scissors, so one day I walked down College Avenue and bought a pair of Gingher shears that I have to this very day. I am reminded of this by articles in the paper today of how expensive it is to send a kid to college. I didn't have anything that the kids have now except sheets and pillows. (If I had had a computer, I'd have my doctorate today, because I was world's most reluctant typist and only the fear having to type constant twenty page papers held me back from a life of academia.)
We liked to cook our own meals, so we shopped and cooked from scratch. We entertained our friends. We came from families that cooked, so we believed that if we could read, we could cook. Just follow the recipe. Michael Pollan writes in today's New York Times that no one cooks any more. Can this be true? He didn't ask me. I cook. My husband cooks. My dad and brothers and sister cook. My daughter makes the best Toll House cookies on the planet. My son specializes in amazing sandwiches. He took a cooking class in high school, and would report back that they used Bisquik to make their pancakes, "Not like you, mom." (And of course, that the pancakes weren't as good as mine.)
Is it true? Does no one cook any more? I know lots of people who do. The only takeout that ever graces my kitchen is Virginia barbecue from the Virginia Barbecue company in Ashland, VA, or (lucky, happy day!) barbecue from Pierce's Pit Barbecue in Williamsburg VA, when Mr. Hunting Creek makes it his business to find business near Williamsburg.
If Michael Pollan would like to come to dinner, we'd be happy to make whatever he'd like. In the interest of journalistic integrity of course, to show him some people still know how.


Nancy (nanflan) said...

I read that article too. I cook, not always from scratch. But I could if I wanted to.

There was also a line buried in the article about no one sewing anymore either. Again, not true (although probably fewer than can cook).

Or maybe we're just dinosaurs? I hope not. said...

I cook and I'm no dinosaur. many of my friends here cook, too. There's quite the little neighbourhood of foodies who have no money for eating out regularly here. We'd all enjoy having Mr. Pollan over for a few meals.

I sew, too.

I don't garden, though. I just can't muster up the interest and effort.

Anonymous said...

Those articles with the sweeping "no one....(insert whatever takes your fancy)" absolutely infuriate me.

I cook. Every day. From scratch. With fresh ingredients.

I sew. I embroider. I knit. I hang wallpaper. I paint. I garden. I read books.

So do all my friends. We range in age from 28 to 52.

My 21 year old niece cooks and embroiders and is learning to sew and has just taken up an allotment to grow her own vegetables.

We are not dinosaurs. It's just that the journalists are, in my opinion, out of touch and sensationalist. Being creative and frugal isn't quite as wild a headline.

AuntieAllyn said...

I haven't read the entire article yet, but I sadly think that Pollan has a point. Your kids are lucky . . . they're around adults like you and your husband who cook, and therefore your kids will watch and learn and will hopefully continue to cook as adults and pass it along to their children. And they'll all be healthier as a result. I think the decline in REAL cooking directly corresponds to the very sad rise in obesity. Reliance on carry-out food, convenience foods and restaurant meals make it so very easy to pack on the pounds, since you have no real control over the fat and excessive calories being consumed. And I can speak first-hand about this, having had weight problems all my life . . . the only way that I was able to take off the weight and keep it off (over 100 pounds) was to take firm control over my eating habits, meaning that I now prepare the overwhelming majority of the food I eat. Yeah, it takes a little of time and it isn't cheap, but I think I'll live longer as a result. Same thing about sewing . . . it takes a little longer to MAKE a dress as opposed to buying something off-the-rack, and it's not always cheaper. But in the long run, I can make exactly what I want, and there's a great deal of personal satisfaction in wearing my own creation. Okay, off my soapbox now . . .

badmomgoodmom said...

Do you remember Kaufman Fabric in downtown Berkeley? Alas, they are no longer there.

Kasuri dyeworks, purveyor of fine hand-dyed or hand-woven fabrics from Japan, closed, too. They closed, not for lack of customers, but because the producers of the fine cloth were dying off (no pun intended).

I bet, when you were there, the organic green grocer on Dwight and Telegraph hadn't opened yet. I asked the owner how he got into the produce business. He replied, "What else can you do with a Philosophy degree from Cal?"

FWIW, I cook, but am less judgmental than other cooks towards those that don't cook. There is a whole classist thing going on that I find very disturbing. I want to post about that.

Kathi said...

I cook and I sew. My husband is supposed to fix supper on the weekends, so that is usually when we have take out unless he grills!! I don't like working in the garden or with flowers. Our neighbor has a big garden, so he brings us fresh veggies all summer. I just love zucchini, squash, and onion fried with lots of butter and then dump a whole bunch of pancake batter in there!! Yummy!
If you ever venture up 95 toward Fredericksburg, try Allman's barbecue!! I lived in Yorktown for a while and would visit Pierce's often
I agree that our eating habits have a lot to do with obesity. I also think it is sad that kids don't get out and play. We spend hours outside every pretty day all summer. I will work on the patio while the boys play. I can cut out items to sew later in the day or pin things together to run in and stitch, etc. They run and run and come in with beet red faces and sweat dripping, but that is so much healthier than sitting in front of a video game.

Toby Wollin said...

The problem in this part of Left Blogistan is that we are all preaching to the choir - we sew, we cook, we do all sorts of stuff from scratch. If we did not..we would not be blogging about it or reading other people's blogs about it. The people who don't cook are those folks who are just too damn busy - they work until 7 p.m. at night, try to cram in all the errands on the weekends in between the kids' soccer games, etc. etc. etc. And one of Pollan's points was that all of those shows on The Food Network are all about people WATCHING someone else do something that MIGHT be cooking (throwing together already prepared foods is sort of borderline awful IMHO, but I'm sort of out there), or might be some form of football or something. he does have a point - if people are watching this stuff, then they are not in the kitchen cooking something from scratch.