Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mark Bittman on home cooking

Mark Bittman argues that the way to make food choices simple is to cook. This is sort of...yes and no. Yes in the sense that I like to cook and enjoy trying out new endeavors, some of which readers might see documented in posts here. Yes in that I think some beginning cooks overestimate how hard it is to learn the basics. No in that I think he's overstating the financial savings to cooking, especially if one has a small family. It is much cheaper to buy a salad that has five or six different kinds of vegetables in it at a Cosi or Chop't than it is to buy ingredients to make same at home, unless one wants to be caught eating the same salad over and over for several days. Ditto, say, the ingredients for a sandwich that has fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and pesto on it.

Also, I'm not sure if it is so much easier to be health conscious at home than it is out. I have a good sense of what the not-gut-busting lunch options are close to my office, and I imagine most working people have same. And iconic American comfort food -- think meatloaf, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, seven layer salad with jello and marshmallows in it - can be quite high in calories and fat. Isn't it more accurate to say that one can be equally conscientious in either venue?

Another nit: what is with the bit about serving one's guests a cake full of sugar and artificial ingredients? Most cakes that I have made contain some combination of flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, baking powder and/or baking soda, and sometimes chocolate or fruit depending on the type of cake. Which of those ingredients is artificial? I suppose I have put red food coloring in red velvet cake, but that is a pretty narrow (if delicious) subset of the genre of cake.

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