Michael Pollan wrote a pretty excellent article on the rise of food related television programming contrasted with the decline of home cooking. You should read it now and then come back and finish reading this. I don’t even mind if you don’t come back.
When I read the article, I started thinking about how much of our cultural identities are passed down by home cooked meals. When families get busier (e.g. both parents working, single parents), we have the potential to lose our cultural identity. I have been thinking about what I ate as a kid, and I cannot remember a meal cooked by either of my parents that reflected our heritage. I remember baked sole, burgers, some kind of orange chicken dish, and tv/microwave dinners.
This is probably a social indictment, and/or an indictment of my all too frail memory, rather than my parents. They raised 2.75 children (I was 1.75 of a child, especially when measured in units of trouble). We just don’t have time to cook. As a result, we lose a very critical cultural connection. Now being a mutt of irish, german, russian, eastern european descent, I used to think that I was spared from the bevy of boiled vegetables and cheap cuts of meat that I think of when I think of these cuisines.
Going back a generation, I remember my grandmothers’ both cooked from their roots. I don’t remember much, but I clearly remember my grandmother’s brisket, and I could swear it was served with these crispy, roasted potatoes. Of course there were religious events like seders, which carried along the standard seder flavors. We also had Hamantashen. Potato Pancakes. Gefilte Fish. Little chocolate coins. Matzoh and of course, matzoh ball soup.
Ultimately, it just makes me think: Should I regain this culture to pass on to my children (which at this time remain imaginary)? Or will I be feeding my children Frozen PB&J’s or Flapsticks (think corn dog, but sausage wrapped in a pancake).