Michael Pollan's article in the New York Times Magazine revisits a familiar paradox: consumption of food programming is on the rise, while actual home cooking continues to ebb. A colleague at work reminded me of an Op-Ed that ran late last year, where cookbook author Marcella Hazan argued that the glamorization of chefs comes at the expense of the home cook. Both pieces struck a chord with me, but I don’t agree that cooking shows or chef-worship are in any way the cause of disengagement from the kitchen.
While shows like “Top Chef” and a lot of the Food Network's programming aren’t likely to teach you much about how to cook, they do beget a measure of appreciation for the skill, verve, and creativity that can be a part of kitchen work. These shows make cooking look sexy, but they're primarily entertainment. The homespun practical cooking lessons a la French Chef that Pollan morns haven't disappeared -- they've just migrated.
To the internet.
At the time of the last official Internet Instructional Cooking Material survey, there were, I believe, a gajillion such sites, ranging from Mark Bittman's restrained/simple/delicious "Bitten" blog at the Times to the crazy cavalcade of recipe blogs that Saveur is trying to corral and showcase.
But I'm partly making this up. I don't have cable at home, and only watch cooking shows when I want to be entertained -- for recipes, I run internet searches or hit my very modest cookbook collection.
Where do you turn when you want to cook?