Too stupid to cook

Michael Ruhlman had a great post today on how Americans are treated as if we’re too stupid to cook. Dead on.

Americans are being taught that we’re too stupid to cook.  That cooking is so hard we need to let other people do it for us.  The messages are everywhere.  Boxed cake mix.  Why is it there?  Because a real cake is too hard!  You can’t bake a cake!  Takes too long, you can’t do it, you’re gonna fail!


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

3 thoughts

  1. Indeed. We were watching some old Julia Child episodes on library DVD last night, involving various cakes, and even Julia was touting cake mixes and store-bought cakes as “just as good”. This, while using such cakes to make extremely fancy final dishes like Gateau in a Cage (cake surrounded by a lacy caramel framework). Really, if you can make the caramel cage, you can make the damn cake.

    This isn’t just food, though. It’s the fundamental message of most advertising, and has been for generations. Toiletries, gadgets, etc…we’ve taken the industrial-era fascination with efficiency to absurd lengths in many aspects.

  2. I have recently gotten into baking. I have made cakes from a mix and I have made cakes from scratch. Honestly, the boxed mixes have tasted just as good as the scratch recipes, especially if I tweak them just a bit. I will make pie dough, cookies, brownies, breads, frosting and just about everything else from scratch, but cake mixes have evolved to a point where for most people with limited time it really isn’t worth it to make the cake from scratch. The only thing I don’t care for are the preservatives and chemicals put into them, so if I have the time, I will make it from scratch. If not, I’m not going to worry about it.

    Also, Ruhlman’s blog pisses me off in that he acts like just because people make microwave dinners they are fat and lazy, only wanting to maximize their TV-watching time. For me personally, I LOVE to cook, but I hate leftovers. I am a 23-year-old girl living alone, and I can’t eat that much. It is difficult for me to cut recipes down far enough so that I only get one and at most two meals out of it. I would love to cook every single night, but I don’t want to have to throw away massive amounts of food at the end of every week, and it can also get frustrating spending 30-60 minutes cooking plus another 30 minutes of clean-up on a meal that it is going to take me 10-15 minutes to eat alone. Obviously this is only my personal experience, but his blog riled me a little bit.

    PS I stupidly decided to watch “The Worst Cooks in America” on Food Network Sunday night. Trust me, there ARE people out there too stupid to cook haha. While I’m not entirely convinced that some of the people weren’t actually just trying to be terrible, some of the things these people came up with were truly, truly bad. The show fails though because they aren’t teaching the people the true basics of cooking. The term mise en place got thrown around but then the contestants weren’t shown preparing one, and basic knife skills were never gone over that I saw. They went from having the contestants preparing their own monstrosities to duplicating a seafood stew, which while pretty simple, was probably not something these people would ever even contemplate making at home. One of the ingredients was saffron, which no home cook is going to buy if there is a chance the whole dinner is going to end up in the garbage.

  3. this is the most important paragraph:
    “I’m not an idiot. I know people are busy. I don’t always feel like making dinner. And I know a lot of people who simply don’t like to cook. If I had to knit my own clothes I’d be really bummed. But the notion that cooking is hard and that it takes a long time and we’re just too stupid to cook is wrong. And I want people to recognize the truth from the bill of goods they’re being sold.”

    I make cake from scratch and I buy brownie mix, I know I can do either. My sister on the other hand would never attempt cake from scratch because it’s “too hard” Cookie dough is now getting too hard for her! lol And that is the difference, it’s not that she thinks she doesn’t have time, it’s that its too hard and Ruhlman makes an excellent point.

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