Monday, November 08, 2004

"You cook? Every night?"

That was the response from my friend, RH, when we were talking about household budgets. She had said that her husband bought breakfast every morning, she bought lunch every day, and they might have three home cooked meals during the week. That's when I said that we might have one or two meals a month that weren't fixed at home and she was stunned.

I didn't know whether I should take that personally but then decided that it probably was because our society just cooks a lot less than ever. This isn't news to most people, especially those with school age kids. However, as I pointed out to RH, it isn't always about preparing a meal. Sometimes it's just about fueling up. RH was much struck by my assertion that a tuna sandwich can do the trick just as handily as a Big Mac, more cheaply and (possibly) more healthily ... and you don't have to go anywhere to get it.

A case in point was last week when, as happens more often than I like to dwell on, it was toward the end of the week and we were out of "dinner-able" food. What I did have on hand was tuna so on to tuna sandwiches (gourmet touch ... a spritz of lemon juice!), chips (ooooh, variety ... your choice of Doritos OR Sunchips), and sliced apples (because nutrition counts too!). From this you can see that I am blessed with a very tolerant husband and children who love tuna. In fact, Hannah's fondest culinary memory of London is the Tuna Mayonnaise at the Princess Pub in St. John's Wood.

I don't call this "cooking." I call it "engineering" because you usually are doing little more than opening cans and assembling (nachos, tuna sandwiches) or sometimes just very simple prep and heating (oven baked chicken nuggets and fries, bratwurst and baked potatoes). I manage to complicate this by having standards that don't allow the use of most types of prepared products (jarred spaghetti sauce, mac and cheese from a box ... even when I use chicken nuggets they're from Kuby's, our great German deli). However, it is possible to an amazing amount of engineering even with these self imposed handicaps.

I do actually cook probably 5 meals every week. I thought everyone knew these little tricks and I suspect most do. However, this idea came as a real revelation to RH and in her book that is called cooking. So yes, I guess, I cook every night.

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