There were some new people at SND this week, and I had an interesting conversation.
The person I was speaking to expressed admiration that we as a group make all of our food ‘from scratch’, and appear to be aware of where our food comes from. He and another gentleman observed that most people would just grab some pre-cooked food for a crowd of 20+. I guess perhaps because I’ve been cooking for a crowd for many years that I think it’s easy (actually easier) to cook for a crowd than it is to cook for two. Somehow there’s more pressure to be fancy when you have to make small batches. Or maybe I don’t feel as guilty about destroying the kitchen if I’m feeding an army. At any rate, it doesn’t take a whole lot longer to triple a recipe (our quadruple it). It tastes better and is often cheaper if someone actually assembles the fresh ingredients themselves. You can control the sauces, make sure the meat is fresh (and the cuts you like) use a few extra vegetables (and chose higher-quality vegetables) to make the dish go a little further. Fresh and simple taste better and are a lot less expensive and time-consuming.
I think of cooking as a superior type of craft project. As long as all of the ingredients are good, it doesn’t matter if it turns out pretty, you can probably still eat it. If it does turn out pretty, you still get to eat it!
Why not make something you have to do every day to live, beautiful and flavorful? It’s more fun if you make it yourself and understand where it came from. No one wants to eat soylent green!
My friends and I, we are a crowd of food snobs. We love food, we love to eat food, we love to eat food in large crowds. This reminds me of the recent article on Locusts over at Scientific American. Grasshoppers are fairly antisocial, but then they go on this serotonin trip that makes them swarm and eat…just like Sunday Night Dinner.
Anyway. There was a tangent in the conversation concerning Ballistic’s stewed squirrel from a few weeks ago. I had to admit that I could not partake of the squirrel, even though it was in a tempting eggplant-tomato sauce. I’ve only read the first bit of Guns, Germs, and Steel where he writes about natural selection for germ resistance. I’m not neurotically clean, but I didn’t even want to touch the pot the squirrel was in for fear of getting some bizarre germ. It was kind of weird. I try to wash my hands regularly (mostly because I touch my face a lot), but I’ll eat food that’s two days old or has recently fallen on the floor. I used to have what I called ‘malactophobia’ a word I made up to describe ‘the irrational fear of bad milk.’ This translated to a lot of foods, but I’m a little bit less fussy than I used to be… I just don’t want to eat a squirrel.