Cooking Solves Everything: How Time in the Kitchen Can Save Your Health, Your Budget, and Even the Planet (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition
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Another thing food-wise he put me onto was that pimenton (smoked paprika to most of the world) is the best of all spices and will make almost anything good taste better. This essay is his food manifesto augmented with some sensible kitchen tips and easy-to-prepare recipes that coming from Bittman promise to be as flavorful as they are simple.
Bittman wants us spend more time in the kitchen and less time standing in line at Mickie D's. If we do that everything will get better: we'll lose weight, we'll be healthier, our relationships will get stronger, the economy will improve and the world generally will be a better place. He says, "If you're a more-or-less typical American - cooking will change your life for the better."
He tells us how cooking for himself, changed his life. He began frequently spending time in the kitchen preparing food in 1968 when he was an eighteen year-old New York kid, a sophomore in college. He's been hanging out in the kitchen since and he's much better for it, he says.
About of third of the calories we eat come from restaurants. That's almost double the percentage of thirty years ago. And how do you think that statistic is tracking with the rate of obesity in America? Yup, the rates for both are rising like puff pastry and at about the same amount over the same period of time. So stay home and cook, for god's sake. That's all Bittman is asking.
If you do that, you'll get more control of your life and your health and weight and you'll be eating food that's more nutritious and tastes a lot better. You'll even be doing something really good for the economy. That's because, no matter where you live, if you prepare your own food you'll most likely be cooking farm products grown locally and the impact on your local agriculture carries with it "huge" economic opportunities, Bittman says. "Money cycles through the community, creates jobs and, most important, rewards the farmers."
So there. If you want a burger for supper, have one. Just cook it yourself and try to use locally produced foodstuffs. You'll be better off. We'll all be better off. "Spend time in the kitchen and you're rewarded with something to eat. It's just that simple." Enough said.
(Except to add: just as he did in his "Minimalist" column, Bittman writes with verve, keeps things simple and always makes a whole lot of good common sense.)
Some of the most popular passages in this very interesting overview of his thinking include:
"Cooking is like exercise or spending time in nature or good conversation: The more you do it, the more you like it, the better you get at it, and the more you recognize that its rewards are far greater than its efforts and that even its efforts are rewards." Location 90.
"The best coverage of how a changing workforce affected kitchen life [in 20th Century America] can be found in Laura Shapiro's eminently readable Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America." Location 135.
"Organic farming, for example -- a booming trend -- still comprises only 0.7 percent of all U.S. cropland and 0.5 percent of all domestic cropland." Location 199.
"When you swing through the drive-up window at McDonald's, you're implicitly supporting wasteful gasoline consumption, minimum wage labor, farm subsidies for the nation's biggest farmers, confinement and mistreatment of animals, non-recyclable packaging, high calorie meals and when you factor in the food giant's worldwide reach, global trade and cultural imperialism. No kidding." Location 342.
Those four extracts are the most commonly highlighted in the current Kindle version of this article. I highlighted 23 other sections, including four very useful appendices: Bittman's Pantry Stocking List, the best things to have on hand for quick, delicious meals; A Week of Quick Dinners; Three foolproof seasonings; and perhaps most useful of all, Roasted Anything (or almost anything).
This is a very helpful survey and defense of cooking for oneself and for those one loves.
Robert C. Ross
revised March 2015