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Thread: "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch" (M. Pollan)

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    "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch" (M. Pollan)

    I know Pollan has a lot of fans and readers here. This very long article about the impact of the Food Network appeared today in the Sunday Times Magazine.

    Printing it out might make it simpler to read:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/ma...king-t.html?em

    Bob

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    I posted this Friday and didn't get a single response.

    ***sniff***

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    "A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch."

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    I read it today and found it interesting, especially the part from the Food Network Exec who said they switched their emphasis from people who like to cook to people who like to eat!
    Karen

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    Thanks for that link. I found it very interesting and agree with most everything in the article. I do cook for my family and have for the better part of 30 years though admit to using some convenience items over the years. I have eliminated most of them except for canned tomatoes, beans, tuna and no-salt added stocks. That came about as a result of my own health situation but I was raised by a woman who relished all those conveniences of the 50s and 60s.

    I'm not a fan of the Food Network and agree with Pollan that it's food entertainment not education. The fact that each show has more commercial time than actual show time is ridiculous and most of the products are things I wouldn't buy including A-1 steak sauce!
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

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    Quote Originally Posted by KristiB View Post
    I posted this Friday and didn't get a single response.

    ***sniff***

    I read yours first, I read yours first!
    TKay

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    Thanks, Kristi and Bob, for posting the link. I really appreciate when you do that (and sorry for not saying so before!) because I often miss those articles otherwise.

    Pollan will be on Fresh Air today, discussing.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    Thanks, Kristi and Bob, for posting the link. I really appreciate when you do that (and sorry for not saying so before!) because I often miss those articles otherwise.

    Pollan will be on Fresh Air today, discussing.
    Thanks for that heads up

    Id like to chime in with thanks too - this particular one I saw yesterday when reading the NY Times, but I dont always see these articles. I appreciated the help in finding them!
    ~Kim~

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    Man, this guy is a PR machine! (and I mean that in a good way)

    I haven't read the article, but did listen to the Fresh Air episode today. Definitely an interesting look at our dietary/consumption/cooking trends over the years.

    I definitely don't blame Food Network for making the switch in programming & emphasis. It's smart on their part in a lot of ways in order to get more eyeballs & focus on entertainment. But definitely agree w/MP about the impact this has had.

    I just cut off our cable TV subscription a few months ago and discovered I now have access to a new (to me) channel called Create, a PBS station with tons & tons of food programs (Simply Ming, Rick Bayless & a few others). Wow -- there is such a huge difference in the Food Network programs vs PBS. The PBS ones are so much less 'produced' and are really really about cooking. It's not food porn. There's no close up shots with music and everyone oohing and ahhing. DH says there is less cleavage, too :-) Very interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SusanMac View Post

    I just cut off our cable TV subscription a few months ago and discovered I now have access to a new (to me) channel called Create, a PBS station with tons & tons of food programs (Simply Ming, Rick Bayless & a few others). Wow -- there is such a huge difference in the Food Network programs vs PBS. The PBS ones are so much less 'produced' and are really really about cooking. It's not food porn. There's no close up shots with music and everyone oohing and ahhing. DH says there is less cleavage, too :-) Very interesting.
    So do you think this station is available only wo cable, or do you think you found it because you didnt have cable and could "see" it

    LOVE both Ming and Rick...
    ~Kim~

    Nashville Restaurant Examiner - check out my page
    Check out my blog: Zen Kitchen http://onehotkitchen-kim.blogspot.com/

    "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
    Dave Barry

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    Read the article today and listened to him on Fresh Air (npr) I really agree with much of what he said but umm, as much as I love cooking and cooking from scratch- the clean up is a royal pain even though DH does most of it- its still a chore and needs to factored in. I mostly do it without much thought- great time to chat etc but on days say in Sept when I go back to work- it matters!
    Cheryl

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    Quote Originally Posted by KristiB View Post
    I posted this Friday and didn't get a single response.

    ***sniff***

    LOL, I didn't see it either. And my divorce dance video got tons of looks Friday and not a single comment. (I didn't think much of it, just the fact that someone did it, and so fast, was funny.) I guess everyone was thinking about their weekend grilling.

    Other than that, what I can say: it's the BOB brand.

    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by cherylopal View Post
    I really agree with much of what he said but umm, as much as I love cooking and cooking from scratch- the clean up is a royal pain even though DH does most of it- its still a chore and needs to factored in.
    He says in the article that the average American spends 27 minutes a day preparing meals, and 4 minutes cleaning up. I don't get that. It takes me about 30 minutes a day to cook dinner, and it sure as heck takes DH a lot longer than 4 minutes to clean up afterwards.

    I'm not sure how I felt about the article. I did agree with much of this response to it. Then again, I don't disagree with Pollan on a lot of his points either. But, he seems to think that we should all feel fulfilled by spending hours a day in the kitchen, and the truth is that many of us don't. He complains about 'dump and stir' recipe shows and talks about the tv 'chefs' using too much prepared foods, but isn't very specific about what exactly he means by that. I totally get Sandra Lee being in that category, but what about Rachel Ray (and many of the other chefs)? Honestly, without her, I'm not sure I would manage to get a home-cooked meal on the table every night. Yeah, she may use canned beans instead of dried, but so what? I've cooked dried beans many times in my life, and never noticed that it made me a better person. If my only options were Julia Child recipes or frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, at this point in my life, the frozen pizza and chicken nuggets would win - certainly not because of taste but because of time.

    I dunno - normally I love Michael Pollan, but this article kind of bugged me. Maybe I took it too personally - I love Michael Pollan, but he wouldn't approve of the way I cook!
    Anne

    When you start to cook, as when you begin to live, you think that the point is to improve the technique until you end up with something perfect, and that the reason you haven’t been able to break the cycle of desire and disillusion is that you haven’t yet mastered the rules. Then you grow up, and you learn that that’s the game.

    Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

  13. #13
    I read the Michael Pollan article a while back, and while I enjoyed it and I seem to be on the white side of the force, it seemed a bit condescending towards people who are pressed for time and do not/cannot cook.
    It does surprise me though, that very few of my friends cook well. Whenever I make a dish, my friend are in awe because I know my way around a kitchen. It's nice to get compliments, but really, it's something anyone can do if they take time to learn and practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beacooker View Post
    But, he seems to think that we should all feel fulfilled by spending hours a day in the kitchen, and the truth is that many of us don't. He complains about 'dump and stir' recipe shows and talks about the tv 'chefs' using too much prepared foods, but isn't very specific about what exactly he means by that. I totally get Sandra Lee being in that category, but what about Rachel Ray (and many of the other chefs)? Honestly, without her, I'm not sure I would manage to get a home-cooked meal on the table every night. Yeah, she may use canned beans instead of dried, but so what? I've cooked dried beans many times in my life, and never noticed that it made me a better person. If my only options were Julia Child recipes or frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, at this point in my life, the frozen pizza and chicken nuggets would win - certainly not because of taste but because of time.

    I dunno - normally I love Michael Pollan, but this article kind of bugged me. Maybe I took it too personally - I love Michael Pollan, but he wouldn't approve of the way I cook!
    He expanded more in the Fresh Air interview.
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    Quote Originally Posted by beacooker View Post
    and 4 minutes cleaning up.
    paper plates

    I've been doing the kind of cooking i love lately my tutoring this month is in the am- so i start around 4- cooking from scratch including using dried beans- and eating around 6:30- can't do that when i work- then its more like 45 minutes- chopping veggies takes time. i am indulging myself for the next 3 weeks-
    Cheryl

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    I felt the same way as many of the posters regarding the somewhat condescending or I am not sure quite what "tone" of the article.

    I can cook and sometimes if I have time I will do it -- but it is time consuming -- and 4 minutes to clean up? I just finished making a prep intensive dish that wasn't super messy and it took me more than 4 minutes to rinse the tools; gather up the veggie parings; load the DW and clean the ONE nonstick pot.

    I honestly don't know how people "cook" if they hold full time jobs. Sometimes I derive satisfaction from cooking but most of the time I cook because I want to eat and if I don't cook, then I don't eat. I do know some people who LOVED LOVED LOVED to cook. When they got home from work, they would cook --and often they would bake or experiment -- me I would rather read or watch a DVD than cook most of the time.

    I do derive satisfaction from a good end product -- which is why it's fun to bring something homemade that people don't normally expect -- like dessert. I am not a master baker but in the kingdom of the blind the one eye man is king so to speak so my simple Bundt cakes, bar cookies etc. are viewed as unbelievable by the hordes.

    By and large, home cooking began to disappear when women entered the work force -- because the reality is that old fashioned cooking on an every day basis requires a lot of time. My mother worked when I was growing up in the 50's and she put a meal on the table every night -- but Friday night was takeout of some kind and she must have been THRILLED by how much we all loved those newfangled TV dinners -- which we began to be served once a week. Other nights were very very simple things -- broiled hamburgers, lamb chops or roasted chicken parts (probably only done because my grandmother lived downstairs and could put the chicken in before my mother got home).

    ETA -- My mother was one of those "wave" of women who started to take cooking classes and cook "gourmet" food in the late 1950's -- but that was always on the weekend and generally for company as well.

    Are there many people on this CLBB (which admittedly is skewed towards "cookers") who work full time and then come home and "cook" (as opposed to getting some kind of food on the table as quickly as possible using shortcuts because even a Rachael Ray meal takes a significant amount of time and effort.
    Some days I pray for Silence, Some days I pray for Soul,
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    Quote Originally Posted by blazedog View Post
    Are there many people on this CLBB (which admittedly is skewed towards "cookers") who work full time and then come home and "cook" (as opposed to getting some kind of food on the table as quickly as possible using shortcuts because even a Rachael Ray meal takes a significant amount of time and effort.
    I guess I qualify.

    Other than a three-month maternity leave in 1989, I've worked full time since graduating from college in 1978. I've always loved to cook, but never really got into the "healthful" aspect of it until about 10 years ago when my metabolism caught up to me.

    I also should add that I've never had a long commute, and only occasionally have had work assignments that demanded more than 40 hours a week, although I did earn a graduate degree as a young mother.

    To me, cooking for family is a relaxing activity. And I have to say that when my job was the most stressful, going home to cook a meal was a sort of therapy for me. Maybe I was channeling my inner domestic self. I cook for a tough crowd that isn't into too much "exploration," -- but my son has gradually come around and my husband has learned to stifle his opinions if he doesn't like something!

    I used to enjoy entertaining, but now, not so much. I don't have as much confidence in my ignorance as I did when I was younger, and frankly, it takes more energy than I want to expend these days.

    Now, I really enjoy meal/menu planning and experimenting with leftovers. I tend to fall into ruts with that, however, and I'm pretty disorganized about keeping track of what we like, what we don't like, what we want to tweak, etc. I just sort of seem to drift from new recipe to new recipe, with only a real <few> old standbys in the mix.

    Ok -- probably way TMI, but you asked if people who work still cook. I do, with the occasional frozen or take-out pizza thrown into the mix on hectic days.
    "I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food."
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackieO View Post
    I guess I qualify.

    Other than a three-month maternity leave in 1989, I've worked full time since graduating from college in 1978. I've always loved to cook, but never really got into the "healthful" aspect of it until about 10 years ago when my metabolism caught up to me.

    I also should add that I've never had a long commute, and only occasionally have had work assignments that demanded more than 40 hours a week, although I did earn a graduate degree as a young mother.

    To me, cooking for family is a relaxing activity. And I have to say that when my job was the most stressful, going home to cook a meal was a sort of therapy for me. Maybe I was channeling my inner domestic self. I cook for a tough crowd that isn't into too much "exploration," -- but my son has gradually come around and my husband has learned to stifle his opinions if he doesn't like something!

    I used to enjoy entertaining, but now, not so much. I don't have as much confidence in my ignorance as I did when I was younger, and frankly, it takes more energy than I want to expend these days.

    Now, I really enjoy meal/menu planning and experimenting with leftovers. I tend to fall into ruts with that, however, and I'm pretty disorganized about keeping track of what we like, what we don't like, what we want to tweak, etc. I just sort of seem to drift from new recipe to new recipe, with only a real <few> old standbys in the mix.

    Ok -- probably way TMI, but you asked if people who work still cook. I do, with the occasional frozen or take-out pizza thrown into the mix on hectic days.
    Not TMI As I wrote, I do know some people who cook when they come home from work but like you, they really enjoy cooking and find it "relaxing" as an activity. I used to love to visit those friends because they would always have incredible stuff just hanging around the house which they would want me to try.
    Some days I pray for Silence, Some days I pray for Soul,
    Some days I just pray to the God of Sex and Drums and Rock 'N' Roll.

    Meatloaf

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    I cook pretty much every night after work, too. It isn't anything elaborate, but they are at least what I consider 'real' recipes - I'm fond of Rachel Ray recipes, and CL and SL have a lot I use also. I don't do it for the joy of cooking, but because I don't know what else we would eat that we be both healthy and affordable. I truly don't understand what working parents who don't cook are feeding their kids.

    I think one of the things that bugs me is that Pollan's article just assumes that more time spent in the kitchen = greater pleasure out of the food, and I think that especially for those of us with young kids, that is simply not true. Sure some kids are mini-gourmands (and it sounds like Pollan was), but *most* kids are not. And many spouses (like mine!) are not either. My family is usually just as, if not more, happy with the 30 minute version of a dish than they would be with the 1 or 2 hour version of it.
    Anne

    When you start to cook, as when you begin to live, you think that the point is to improve the technique until you end up with something perfect, and that the reason you haven’t been able to break the cycle of desire and disillusion is that you haven’t yet mastered the rules. Then you grow up, and you learn that that’s the game.

    Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

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    Quote Originally Posted by beacooker View Post
    I truly don't understand what working parents who don't cook are feeding their kids.
    I think based on Pollan's article, he wouldn't consider buying processed food or prepared food to be cooking.

    Putting aside parents who don't feed their family anything, I think the big profit/big push in supermarkets is to offer "prepared food." I don't buy it but my supermarkets (aside from the expanded "hot food/prepared food deli type counter) also offer their own versions of various kinds of food. The frozen food counter has everything from organic types of frozen meals, Chinese food, Italian food including frozen "sides" and even the meat counter has prepared foods. I happened to be looking for something yesterday in the frozen food section and spotted some Korean frozen entrees from a local distributor.

    And there are always the beloved chicken nuggets for the kids -- there are organic ones which are baked instead of fried.

    TJ also has quite a lot of this kind of stuff -- not all of it junk or awful tasting.

    My sense is that Pollan thinks all of this stuff is "wrong".
    Some days I pray for Silence, Some days I pray for Soul,
    Some days I just pray to the God of Sex and Drums and Rock 'N' Roll.

    Meatloaf

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    Quote Originally Posted by blazedog View Post
    Not TMI As I wrote, I do know some people who cook when they come home from work but like you, they really enjoy cooking and find it "relaxing" as an activity. I used to love to visit those friends because they would always have incredible stuff just hanging around the house which they would want me to try.
    Well, let me give a LOT of credit to the posters on this BB for helping me stay "relaxed" about cooking. I've learned so many things just by lurking about how to put ingredients together that I never in a million years would have thought about. Take tonight's dinner, for example. I had half a batch of peanutty sauce leftover from the weekend. I had a leftover half, bone-in grilled chicken breast. I had edible snow pea pods from Saturday's farmers' market. I had a can of sliced water chestnuts. I had soba noodles in the pantry. Viola! I had dinner -- DS thought it was odd that it wasn't hot, but as I posred on someone's Facebook comment tonight, DH said, "Not all food is meant to be eaten hot. What's that cold soup that I don't like?"

    Helen -- I'd love to have you come to my house and sample all the little things I have hidden in my pantry that the boys won't try. I used to be a lot better at having the neighbors, or at least a few girlfriends, over to eat that stuff up. I made caprese skewers the last two nights and the boys wrinkled their noses, big time. I know I"ll be sick of it before I work my way through the cheese ball, although I think if I make bruschetta, they won't notice.

    Anne -- I, too, worry about what those non-cooking families are feeding their kids. It's so much cheaper and convenient to stop off at a fast food place when hungry than it is to plan, shop, cook AND clean up. I will freely admit I don't think I'd cook nearly as much from scratch if my DH didn't pick up his end with cleaning up/dishes -- even though I often inspect his work!
    "I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food."
    ---W.C.Fields

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    Quote Originally Posted by blazedog View Post
    Putting aside parents who don't feed their family anything, I think the big profit/big push in supermarkets is to offer "prepared food." I don't buy it but my supermarkets (aside from the expanded "hot food/prepared food deli type counter) also offer their own versions of various kinds of food. The frozen food counter has everything from organic types of frozen meals, Chinese food, Italian food including frozen "sides" and even the meat counter has prepared foods. I happened to be looking for something yesterday in the frozen food section and spotted some Korean frozen entrees from a local distributor.

    And there are always the beloved chicken nuggets for the kids -- there are organic ones which are baked instead of fried.

    TJ also has quite a lot of this kind of stuff -- not all of it junk or awful tasting.

    My sense is that Pollan thinks all of this stuff is "wrong".
    Getting back to the spirit of this thread...

    I found myself dozing off at some of the navel-gazining/pontificating in this article, as well. Who invests this much of their life into chastizing all the rest of us about what we eat? I encourage a reasonable dialogue about fast food vs. home cooking, but we seem to be polarizing people by putting them in crap vs pure food camps. Just as we seem to be categorizing our political leanings.

    I feel really bad for our society. If we can't agree on food, what CAN we agree on? (Sorry, I've been listening to MSNBC all night, and we had one of those hideous ambushed town hall mtgs last night.)

    Carry on. This thread is about food and eating and culture. Not politics. Sorry.
    "I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food."
    ---W.C.Fields

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    Quote Originally Posted by kwormann View Post
    So do you think this station is available only wo cable, or do you think you found it because you didnt have cable and could "see" it
    If you have digital cable (with a box) you can get the channel, too.

    I love PBS cooking shows--Rick Bayless is my favorite.
    Blogging Fun
    Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. -Michael Pollan

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by beacooker View Post
    He says in the article that the average American spends 27 minutes a day preparing meals, and 4 minutes cleaning up. I don't get that. It takes me about 30 minutes a day to cook dinner, and it sure as heck takes DH a lot longer than 4 minutes to clean up afterwards.
    That average must be including people who don't cook. I'm sure the clean up average is much higher if he had filtered his calculation by those who actually cooked. I know I spend more time than that cleaning up coffee mugs and sippy cups every day.

    Some nights my family would be thrilled to get a Rachel Ray meal. 30 minutes is more than I have most evenings, so we do a lot of crockpot, and make ahead meals. Maybe Pollan would look down on that, but that's okay!

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