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Today, for some reason, it is news that a simple Paula Deen recipe is being mocked on the internet. Which brings up a question I think about a lot with this blog.

How simple is too simple?

I think it’s time to tell my story. It’s about 50% of the reason why I do what I do here.

Back in 2010, I dated a guy whose idea of dinner was popping open a can of spaghetti, pouring it into a bowl, cutting up a hotdog over the top and microwaving until hot.

My response: “Ew.”

He was the middle of six or seven kids, but had never learned to cook (which seemed unusual to me). He didn’t even realize that he could actually volunteer to help me in the kitchen. Then one day, he mentioned that reading a recipe was like reading Greek and he wondered if I could help him learn to cook.

I pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook and said, “Let’s pick something simple.” He settled on a fritata against my explicit recommendation otherwise! So…fritata it was. We made a list, then went to the store. I immediately noticed that he read one instruction at a time, without any understanding of taking in the whole process before beginning, something I do without even thinking about it.

Here’s what I realized–we who cook know things that people who don’t cook simply don’t know. Like churchgoers, we speak in our own language and it’s largely meaningless outside of our own culture.

Things like time management, the difference between chopping and dicing, and even preheating were things I learned by working every day in the kitchen with my mother. Later, when I was proficient, I learned how to use shortcuts like Martha Stewart, and how to create my own recipes like a real chef. But all of that came with time, practice and experience.

So I try to walk a fine line between too simple and too foodie. I want to be the kind of blogger that new cooks can come to for advice, and that experienced cooks check occasionally for new ideas. I do believe anyone can cook with the right information at their fingertips.

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