Saturday, November 29, 2008

Home cooking and love

Like other forms of human affection, cooking delivers its truest and most enduring gifts when it is savored in intimacy — prepared not by a chef but by a cook and with love.
--Marcella Hazan, New York Times, "No Chefs in My Kitchen"

Once upon a time, restaurants lured customers with promises of "home-cooked" meals, food just like Mother used to make. But nowadays we Americans spend nearly half of our food dollars in restaurants, and home cooks now want to imitate professional chefs.
  • "No need to leave home, make reservations, and go out," says "You can make recipes that taste just like the restaurant without ever having to leave home."
  • Buy lots of (expensive) equipment and you can cook "Just Like in a Restaurant Kitchen," suggests Sara Levine in the Washingtonian.
  • Google "restaurant taste" + frozen and you'll find a plethora of prepared foods to make your meals (to quote my father-in-law) "just like downtown only not so crowded."
Apparently it's not just the high-end restaurants that home cooks are dying to emulate. In Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains Todd Wilbur tells you how to copy food from IHOP, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Dennys ...

O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.
--King Lear

Marcella Hazan to the rescue! Restaurant food, she writes, is entertainment. Home cooking is something else:
I am my family’s cook. It is the food prepared and shared at home that, for more than 50 years, has provided a solid center for our lives. In the context of the values that cement human relations, the clamor of restaurants and the facelessness of takeout are no match for what the well-laid family table has to offer. A restaurant will never strengthen familial bonds.
Enjoy your turkey leftovers at home, with someone you love.

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