Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Regarding The Joy of Not Cooking

This piece, from The Atlantic, attempts to answer the excellent question of why so many non-cooks posses such well-equipped kitchens. Three paragraphs really stand out. The first is because of these stats: the 1920s, the average woman spent about 30 hours a week preparing food and cleaning up. By the 1950s, when she was raising her family, that number had fallen to about 20 hours a week. Now, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, women average just 5.5 hours—and those who are employed, like me, spend less than 4.4 hours a week. And that’s not because men are picking up the slack; they log a paltry 15 minutes a day doing kitchen work.

The second is because of the nod to South Park:

Jack Schwefel, the CEO of Sur La Table, talks about “the romance” of the high-end kitchen gadgets he sells. Take something like a Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker, which has “550 watts of shaving and blending power” and four preset frozen-drink settings and, according to Sur La Table’s Web site, was featured in the March 25, 2009, episode of South Park. (Stan tries to return it to the company but can’t because it’s on a payment plan and he can’t find out who owns the debt.) It retails for $349.95.

The third is where that author answers her question:

If you see cooking as an often boring part of your daily work, you’ll buy the pots you need to finish the job, and then stop. But if it’s part of a voyage of personal “rediscovery,” you’ll never stop finding new side trips to take—and everyone who’s been on a nice vacation knows the guilty pleasure of spending a little more than you should.

All I'd add is that while an enjoyable hobby or passion will always command a tidy portion of your disposable income, that explanation doesn't cover the trend in home building/kitchen design that calls for a six-burner plus griddle dual fuel range in every kitchen regardless of the residents' inclination to cook. This trend can only be attributed to keeping up with the Jones, or good old fashioned bigger is better consumerism.

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