The Loh Life

Lean Sideways, Part 3: Gummy Bear Suicide

Sandra Tsing Loh's take on food preparation.

I've been parboiling mad over Michael Pollan's new book "Cooked."  He's basically suggesting more home cooking will cure ills from childhood obesity to the evil reign of fast food merchants like McDonald's.

I would be for this if it weren't for the added pressure and blame it puts on mothers.  I mean, there was a time in America when phoning in one's cooking was not a sin!  My Midwestern ex-mother-in-law once showed me a favorite South Dakotan cookbook from the 1950's.  It featured such recipes as "Wash Day Soup" - hamburger meat flung into boiling water, "Lazy Woman's Pickles," and, of course, that undying American classic: "Five Can Casserole."  My elderly neighbor recently recalled how in the 1970's, buckets of fried chicken were marketed with the giddy slogan: "Female Liberation!"  Sure!

Pollan is quick to reassure that, in 2013, it's not just women who should cook from scratch more, but men, too.  After all, nowadays, men cook just as well as women, perhaps even better, they've got mad skills, blah blah blah!

But, here is the problem: women and men do not get along in the kitchen.  They disagree over knives up or knives down in the dishwasher, Tupperware versus Ziplocs, and general basic technique.  I've sliced apples toward my wrist for years, and while it can look dangerous to an outside person, I've never opened a vein, I DON'T need to be corrected by my partner, for  PETE'S sake - I'm 51.  Note on Alton Brown's shows: while cooking, he appears to be blissfully alone.

And then there are the children.  Recently, my younger daughter had her 11th birthday party and she wanted to make her own cake.  "Which you should never do," I informed her.  "Never make your own birthday cake... the morning of your party... that's for 25 children 30 minutes away in a mini-golf park."  But she was determined, there was a kamikaze run to the store, and then, well-?  As someone who goes to Subway and combines six flavors of soda, her cake was one layer vanilla and one layer chocolate, covered with "cupcake" flavored frosting, peppermint icing, and - I regret to say - a group suicide pile of gummy bears.  The cake practically had toxic fumes coming off it.

You've heard of the book "French Kids Eat Everything"?  Well, everything except that.  But, my daughters' friends seemed to enjoy it, along with gross Velveeta chili fries and arcade games that all seemed to feature machine guns.

So, who are my kids to complain when some of the hasty meals I cook include: Festival of Toast, Open Your Own Can, and Quesadilla Surprise?  Five can casserole, though?  Too many steps.

Next week: Perhaps Marissa Meyer Was Right!


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