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Not About Food

A decline in home cooking?

greedygirl | Oct 1, 200809:29 AM     207

Not among Chowhounds, obviously, but a TV programme I watched last night here in the UK got me thinking.

I'm not sure whether you'll get it in the States but Jamie Oliver has a new show called "Jamie's Ministry of Food". In it he goes to a northern town (Rotherham) on a mission to teach ordinary folks to cook. The lack of basic knowledge among the people that he meets is gobsmacking. One woman isn't sure how to turn her cooker on, another doesn't really know what boiling water looks like. All of them feed their kids on junk food and takeaways. The idea is that he teaches a core group of eight some simple dishes, which they teach to their friends, and so on.

Now these may be extreme examples, but it does seem that we have created large swathes of people who simply don't know how to cook. I'm not talking about gourmet food here, but the kind of stuff that I would consider to be a basic life skill. After all, it's not rocket science.

Back in the seventies, when I was growing up, people had no option but to cook. Takeway/restaurant food was simply too expensive. My mother loathes cooking but still put a home-cooked meal on the table every night. Sure we ate a lot of mince (ground beef) and stuff with pastry but at least it was honest, if not gourmet, fare. We were a fairly typical working-class family.

But somewhere along the line that seems to have changed for a lot of people. What went wrong?

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