Cook: Do not be a sloth
The cook is a craftsman. He takes fowl from the air, fish from the water, fruits, vegetables,and grains from the land, and animals that walk the earth, and through his skills and art transforms the the raw product to edible food. He serves to sustain life in man, woman, and child. He has a sacred duty through his efforts and art to sustain and maintain the healthy bodies that god has given us to house our souls. (14th Century Guild Manual)
The first time I cooked for other people was a unusual occurrence. Over thirty years ago I worked in a high crime area. Firehouses were being burglarized when the firemen went on runs. Police officers were sent to firehouses to guard them until the firemen returned.
One night, I was assigned that duty. The firehouse cook had just laid out his prep for dinner, pasta with tomato meat sauce. He was mad. I told him not to worry. Go fight the fire. I would cook.
About an hour and a half hour later the firemen returned to the house. The cook came into the kitchen. I was finishing the meat sauce he prepped. All he had to do was cook the pasta. He tasted the sauce. He called his captain to taste the sauce. They tried to recruit me to switch jobs. I told them I hate ladders as much as they hate going into buildings when people are shooting.
It was the first time anyone complimented me on my cooking. It made me realize you can cook in a strange place, using other people’s ingredients and equipment to produce an edible meal.
Cooking is not that hard.
It is amazing to see how many people order carry out or delivery on a regular basis.
Worse, are people who use services like Blue Apron. These companies will deliver portioned raw ingredients, seasonings, and instructions to cook meals. Open the box, read the instructions, and cook.
How hard is it to shop?
Many people have fancy kitchens with unused shiny toys collecting dust. It is mind boggling.
When it comes to providing sustenance for ourselves and others, Americans are turning into sloths. People claim they have no time to cook. Work, the gym, yoga, and keeping their faces planted and thumbs engaged with devices or their eyeballs on the idiot box suck up all their time.
We live in country with the greatest food supply in the world. Add technology and modern transportation and we can obtain food from all over the world, even what used to be considered exotic. Yet, more and more people settle for mung and dreck to save time for Titter, Facebook, or irrelevant television shows.
Immigrants, especially those escaping from poverty and starvation, do not have that problem. They come here astounded by what Italians call, abbondanza, abundance. They can go to any grocery store, even on subsistence wages, for ingredients to cook wonderful meals to sustain themselves and their loved ones.
People who were for the most part vegetarian by circumstance, not choice, can eat meat more often. They can enjoy fruits and vegetables without the back breaking work of tending subsistence gardens.
Immigrants bring their knowledge of cookery and frugality. Eventually they add their cooking cultures to the melting pot stew that is American cuisine.
I worked as a cop in some of the poorest areas of Chicago. I would go into people’s homes. They did not have much. Sometimes the homes were worse than hovels. Yet, there was always something on the stove or food on the table. Good food. Soul food, Mexican food, Southern food. All made from inexpensive ingredients. All cooked from scratch.
To the poor, food is more important than anything. On holidays, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, there would be veritable feasts rivaling the wealthy. Whether they got bags of groceries, turkeys or hams from do-gooders, food pantries, or bought them with food stamps, they celebrated the bounty.
The holiday feast was important. For a few days a year they were not poor. The poor could be like everyone else, proving it with food.
In their hard lives of survival, they find time to cook. The laboring immigrant and the poor have a greater appreciation for food than the middle class or the wealthy. They have a healthy respect for the meager ingredients they can afford.
With talent and creativity borne out of necessity, they can make even the most paltry ingredients into a good tasting meal.
The immigrant and the poor do not cook to impress. They cook to sustain. But they cook. They do not have the fancy kitchens, gadgets, and shiny objects. They make do with old ranges and cheap cookware. Sometimes they have the tiniest kitchens. Yet, they cook. They provide. No matter how tired they are, how worried they are, how frazzled their lives are, they cook.
They shame the rest of us. We, who order out or get take out on the way home. We, who dust the barely or unused shiny appliances and objects in our fancy kitchens. We, who are too lazy or self absorbed in our electronic gadgets to cook a simple meal. We who are too lazy to shop so we order prepackaged ingredients and recipes.
Worse, we who stock our freezers with so-called meals or that dried packaged stuff. All to be cooked in the microwave.
Home cooking is not difficult, time consuming, or backbreaking. Grocery shopping is not hard labor. Shopping and cooking are way cheaper than take out, carry out, or the frozen concoctions made for the microwave. You could save enough money to go to fine dining restaurants every now and then.
Cooking at home is healthier too. You know what you are eating. You control the portions.
Stop thinking of cooking as a chore. Imagine you are providing sustenance for your self and loved ones. You need to eat to live. There is no greater love than providing life giving sustenance for yourself, friends, or family.
Put down the gadgets, cut the gym or yoga workouts short, peel your face away from the gadgets, and cook. You will be happier, healthier, and have a few more shekels in your pocket.
You will feel better about yourself. That alone is worth the modicum of effort it takes to put a meal on the table.