When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

18 March 2006

A nation of culinary illiterates

At Kraft Foods, recipes never include words like "dredge" and "sauté." Betty Crocker recipes avoid "braise" and "truss." Land O' Lakes has all but banned "fold" and "cream" from its cooking instructions. And Pillsbury carefully sidesteps "simmer" and "sear."

When the country's top food companies want to create recipes that millions of Americans will be able to understand, there seems to be one guiding principle: They need to be written for a nation of culinary illiterates.


"We're now two generations into a lack of culinary knowledge being passed down from our parents," said Richard Ruben, a New York cooking teacher whose classes for non-cooks draw a range of participants, from 18-year-olds leaving for college who want to have survival skills to 60-year-olds who have more time to cook but don't know how.

"In my basic 'How to Cook' class, I get people who have only used their ovens to store shoes and sweaters," he said. "They're terrified to hold a knife. They don't know what garlic looks like."

I guess I'm really lucky... I grew up in a multigenerational household with two wonderful cooks (my mother and grandmother) and have been happily cooking since about age five. Maybe it's a Southern thing... dunno.

We are certainly not above eating takeout on a busy weeknight, but I cook every chance I get. I find it relaxing after a long day of work to get into the kitchen, roll my sleeves up, and cook for the family.

Cooking 101: Add 1 Cup of Simplicity (Washington Post)

Hat tip: Ann Althouse

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