Yesterday, as of 4:00 p.m., the lights in the kitchen were still off, ground beef still frozen, no activity anywhere near the area. By 5:00, there were meatballs, pasta and sauce on the table. No big deal, really… the meatballs were homemade, but the sauce was from a jar and the pasta from a box. I can, and have, put a similar meal together all the way from flour and tomatoes, but not on a school night.
As I threw it all together, I got wondering… is this cooking? Does it qualify as cooking, when all you’re really doing is preparing according to package instructions? Do you get credit for cooking when one of the main aspects of the meal came from individual ingredients, or do you have to have assembled the whole shebang to be able to call it that? When is it cooking, and when is it just preparing?
I’m sure the answer varies depending on whom you ask. There are any number of highly talented, intelligent, skilled people who consider mashed potatoes beyond their culinary grasp and are proud of themselves when they’re able to put together a box of mac and cheese without burning it. There are others who would be appalled to be caught with canned soup or boxed stuffing within a block of their homes, because why buy it that way when you can create it yourself, to your own specifications?
We’re somewhere in the middle, here. We can create our own sauces, soups, marinades, and so on, from individual ingredients, when we want to, but we’re also unashamedly willing to serve a ham steak and boxed pierogies on any given evening, because sometimes easy outweighs culinary pride.
These are the things I think about when I’ve spent too much time at home alone.