The Dumbing Down of Recipe Writing

There’s an interesting article in yesterday’s Washington Post surrounding the intentional dumbing down of recipes.

Choice paragraph:

At a conference last December, Stephen W. Sanger, chairman and chief executive of General Mills Inc., noted the sad state of culinary affairs and described the kind of e-mails and calls the company gets asking for cooking advice: the person who didn’t have any eggs for baking and asked if a peach would do instead, for example; and the man who railed about the fire that resulted when he thought he was following instructions to grease the bottom of the pan — the outside of the pan.

This is the kind of thing that’s both sad and funny. Yeah, yeah – someone not knowing whether to grease the inside or outside of a pan contains its own pathos, but there are several reasons for this regression in cooking skills.

The article mentions one of them, with both parents working certainly being one of them. The others (not mentioned) are the prevalence of microwave ovens, and pre-processed meals that can be easily heated within said microwaves. I still remember one college friend who wanted to make me dinner, and I later found myself sharing a plate of luke-warm Stouffers stuffed peppers. I realized then that people’s ideas of what constitutes “cooking” varies greatly.

Personally, I feel this dumbing down of cooking is not a reflection of the people but rather more of a reflection of the times in which we live. There’s a reason why Rachel Ray’s 30 minute recipes have hit home…we live in an era where time is an expensive commodity and people are cutting corners where possible.

Would I love for people to be cooking more? Absolutely. But beyond extending a day by an additional 8 hours, I’m not sure how that’s going to occur.

(Thanks to Gwyn for the heads up)

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