A Little Rant and some Truth Telling
Please allow me a little rant this morning.
This morning I watched a cooking show boasting 15 minute recipes. The chef then went on to prepare fajitas, but he made the salsa, chicken, trimmings and even tortillas from scratch. Rather than a 15 minute meal, I would estimate each ingredient needed about 15 minutes prep time.
The chefs who promote 15 min or 30 min meals are really not telling the truth. What they really mean is that if you have seven or eight kitchen assistants who are doing prep work in the kitchen so that your onions are miraculously chopped, your can of beans are rinsed and drained, and your water arrives measured and boiling, THEN your recipe might actually be 15 or 30 minutes. Your total time cooking might be 1 hour and 30 minutes. Yes, you will get delicious, fresh, and real food, but let’s be honest about the time factor because the rest of us have to boil water ourselves and it could take 15 minutes just to bring the water to a boil.
Why does this bother me? I think it’s because we all need a little refreshing honesty about what life actually involves. Movies, tv, cooking shows, Pinterest all want to convince us we can have beautiful appearances, food, crafts, birthday parties IN JUST 15 MINUTES! But if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
We need to know that this recipe is to die for, but oh my goodness, you will have to WORK to make it. It’s like everyone behind the scenes is saying, “They can’t handle the truth. If we tell them how hard this really is, we won’t sell anything, so let’s pretend it’s easy.”
Ok, this is advertising, I get it. But it’s also a problem. Because then we are standing in our kitchens sweaty and exhausted saying, “What’s wrong with me, that I can’t make this in 30 minutes?” And since we don’t have food photographers, why doesn’t ours look like the picture?
I think we can handle the truth. I really do. When we get the truth, then we can say, “Ok, so it’s hard. I can do hard. Let’s get busy.” Or maybe we say, “Wow, that’s a lot of time. I’m going with a frozen pizza tonight.” Either way, we’re making a more informed decision.
So maybe we shall have a little truth-telling party this morning, shall we?
About cooking at home: Work, mess, planning, sweat, time, and attention. When I am making a really fabulous meal, I might start working on it in early afternoon. There is a reason restaurant food costs so much and that reason is labor. Cooking at home really is healthier, but it is a LOT of work, especially when you factor in dish-washing. You might learn to appreciate food more and where it comes from, but just don’t think there is anything wrong with you if you find yourself tired and sweaty at the dinner table eating it. Sometimes I am so hungry myself that I don’t really want to talk to anyone until I’ve eaten what’s on my plate.
Now let’s do a little truth telling about kids. When you go to ALL THE TROUBLE (and it’s a lot) of making real food, healthy food, balanced meals for them, they will not appreciate it at all. In fact, you will have a tiny, cranky rebellion on your hands, especially if they are accustomed to frozen pizza and Lunchables. So you might just be tired, sweaty, cranky, and hungry from all that work, only to find your little people are more than unappreciative of your efforts, they are downright mad and on strike against your healthy food. My second son once held a piece of asparagus in his mouth for an hour so as to avoid swallowing it. The digestive enzymes in his mouth had reduced it to a green noodle, but that boy never did swallow that asparagus. That was the day I decided to stop fighting the food battles. They must try my food, but I will not force feed anymore.
Kids like what they like and they don’t have adult palates. Some foods won’t taste good to them until they mature and just like the rest of us, they will never learn to like some foods. But I do think they can be educated on kindness, manners and etiquette. I don’t want to fight all the battles, but I do want to fight the ones that matter to me.
Recently, fed up with my kids easy and cranky dismissal of my carefully planned meals, I sat down with a clean sheet of paper. Starting at the top of the paper, I drew cartoon-ish pictures of the entire process it took to get that food to the table. All the steps: planning, buying, carrying groceries home, chopping, preparing, cooking, putting on the table. I could have started further back at the farm, but we’re taking baby steps. At the end of the explanation, I explained how rude it is to yell, “I don’t like this!” when someone has worked that hard to put food on the table. It’s going to be a continuing conversation. The truth is, switching from eating out to cooking real food is a journey and the beginning will be rough. Plan accordingly.
Let’s reject media’s mismanagement of the truth. Let’s call it like it is. Let’s be truth-tellers and straight-talkers. Let’s teach ourselves and our kids that all the best things in life are costly. Real food is amazing and healthy and will make you feel so proud that you prepared it yourself, but it’s a lot of work and there’s nothing wrong with you if you call it that. And it’s also ok to decide that you don’t have the energy for that much work and you’d just rather pay for someone else to do it some nights.
I want truth and honesty and I can handle it. I think you can, too.
Let’s be truth tellers.
Coming soon: truth telling about parenting.