What makes Americans fear their kitchen stoves so much? Huh?
Well, it appears something is at the root of the rise in eating out. Just last year—for the first time, ever—Americans spent more on restaurant food (and bar fare) than they did on food from the grocery store. The data reflects a pattern hearkening back to our “halcyon” days in America, the 1970s.
Perhaps the paucity of exciting food from the decade when things began unraveling drove a generation to seek their sustenance outside their home kitchens. Experts tell us that much of this is due to females now working somewhere other than where they’re domiciled. I think one assumption that’s safe hold is that Johnny is pretty useless in term of opening a can of beans and throwing some rice into a pot. Or maybe, we haven’t evolved as far as we think we have and it’s still a woman’s job to cook (and clean), while bringing in half of the household income, women’s lib be damned!
This older article (NYTimes, (Feb. 24, 1988) culled from the archives has this as its lead:
It has been at least 25 years since women began campaigning to have their husbands share the household chores, but according to a recent New York Times nationwide survey, they have not made much headway. A quarter of a century after Betty Friedan wrote ”The Feminine Mystique,” the book credited with igniting the feminist movement, women are still doing almost all the cooking and grocery shopping.
The article continues,
Unable in most cases to persuade the men they live with to pitch in, women at all income levels have devised their own ways to lighten the load, primarily by cutting back on time spent in the kitchen. But this is only a makeshift solution to a more intractable problem.
Just one of many “intractable problems” in a country way beyond its capacity to be made “great again,” regardless of what President Orange says. And of course, there are plenty of other signifiers that our nation is a lost cause, too. The fact that we no longer have the capacity to gather around the family table and break bread is just another to add to an ever-lengthening list of maladies.
Interestingly, last night, just after Miss Mary and I had finished dinner and were sitting around with a glass of wine, ruminating on how we are eating out less and less (and plan to continue that trend), WCSH’s nightly 207 program featured a Maine-based cookbook writer, talking about that very subject.
The program hosts, Caroline Cornish and Rob Caldwell, ended their segment with 207 guest, wellness consultant, Malia Dell, discussing their own lives in terms of eating out, or eating at home. Cornish apparently has an outlier of a husband—he not only cooks—but he also plans and does the grocery shopping. I’m positive men with these domestic qualities are rare indeed. Caldwell admitted that almost all of his eating is done in restaurants. Better, he refused to admit where he was at in Dell’s suggestion that he eat 75 percent of his meals at home. He actually seemed genuinely perplexed about how to alter his sorry lot, which seemed kind of pathetic.
Dell talked about healthy eating, as well as her self-published cookbook (kind of), Food That Works: Real Meals to Survive The 9 to 5. She described her book as being a “planner” for setting up your week so that it’s not necessary to order take out, or go out to eat night after night. Ah, yes—planning—yet another skill that 21st century Americans seem to have lost somewhere as they departed the prior century.
I’ve long asserted that most food purchased and eaten in a restaurant rarely delivers much in terms of return on one’s investment. Foodie inflation has done nothing to flip the numbers, either. Just last week, we went to Frontier, a Brunswick establishment that is considered vegan-friendly. We both ordered what I’d consider “lighter” meals in terms of prep and ingredients. With two drinks, our meal was over $100. So much for bang-for-our-eating-out buck.
Since adopting a plant-based way of eating, dining out no longer makes much sense at all. Not only are there few restaurants that cater to anyone eschewing animal protein, I now realize that save for a few shining exceptions, most of them aren’t going to offer up anything that Mary and I can’t duplicate at home. And if they do, they are going to do so at a premium, compared to buying the food ourselves and preparing it (even if it comes from the farmers’ market). Oh, and it’s a myth that you can’t afford to eat healthy, local foods. If you want to eat better, you can. Instead, most prefer to hide behind lies and half truths when it comes to food (and most other things).
I realize that we’re exceptions in our choices of food, and choosing to eat at home more often than not. And yet, we’ve adopted a brand new way of eating, and we’ve found success over the past three months with our own DIY approach to learning how to cook vegan (or plant-based) with the help of a few resources, and a select couple of cookbooks that have become essential. Let me add that both Mary and I were comfortable in the kitchen prior to this new lifestyle shift; we both have foundational cooking skills, and beyond.
If you really want to do something revolutionary in 2017, cook most of your meals at home. Figure out how to incorporate more local foods, pick a few cookbooks that highlight meals that you can prepare in 30 to 40 minutes, and you’ll be well on your way to living and eating healthy in the coming year, and you’ll be saving money to boot.