Posts Tagged With: globalization

Retiring the modern hearth: Good bye to the stove

Janine Swank. Flickr. Sonora Town, Gilbert, Arizona. August 1, 2011.

Janine Swank. Flickr. Sonora Town, Gilbert, Arizona. August 1, 2011.

Shiny, warm, and fragrant from baking chocolate chip cookies, the stove replaced the hearth as the center of the kitchen if not the home.  It is lovingly scrubbed by fryers of chicken and simmerers of tomato sauce.  Novice bakers of muffins for a Girl Scout meeting, veteran omelet cooks, and amateur gourmet chefs preparing ratatouille all pay their respects with their attentive stances before the stove.  Of course, these comforting household routines would not be possible if the presence of the stove wasn’t an expected part of every household.  Despite central heating and fast food restaurants, whether we inhabit an apartment or a mansion, there’s a stove in the kitchen.

Given the length and importance of the relationship of the stove with abodes and their inhabitants, what is the future of the stove?  Fast food meals have enabled walks right by the kitchen door.  Digital relationships have moved eating from the kitchen to the desktop.  Our working friendship with the stove has been usurped by the computer.  Cooking and baking have been replaced by tapping and clicking.  While the stove’s stolid appearance has a certain technological charm, its chunky mechanical dials and elements can’t complete even visually with the sleek, minimalist style of a laptop computer.  Of course, working with a computer imbues us with an air of intelligent accomplishment, too.  The audios, videos, and multiple screens are all commanded by the agile glide of our fingers over the keyboard.  Melodious sounds and erudite talk issue into the surrounding air.  Working with stove affords us a more visceral appeal.  Our production of nourishment, warmth, and taste suggests that not only our minds, but also our hearts are engaged.

Despite our longings, though, the demands of the information age will draw us away from the loyal companionship of the stove.  Our collection of cookbooks will make way for the overflow of paper goods from the wholesale shopping store.  Repeated foraging for meals at the drive through window will become habitual.  Our memories of cooking and the flavors of home cooked meals will disappear with our bottled herbs and spices.  Like the exercise bike that serves as a hanger for clothing, the stove will first lose its luster due to a slight covering of dust.  Our initial inattentions will be replaced with takeout menus, piles of paper napkins, and packets of sugar and ketchup.  Eventually, it will be donated to a family who appreciates its bulky sensibilities, despite its lack of cachet.  Future generations will want kitchens equipped only with microwave and toaster ovens.  Their elegant portability and just-in-time performance will speed the stove into obsolescence.  Good bye, old friend.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Food and cultural diversity

Carol Moshier. Flickr. February 6, 2009.

Globalization with ready accessibility to mass transportation has expanded the menus if not the palates of Americans.  Although authenticity has suffered, pizza, fried rice, tacos, and grits are readily and quickly available to many Americans.  For more adventurous eaters, gyros, bagels and lox, and ravioli abound.  Still, our culture of efficiency and economy has constrained the American diet.  If it can’t be located, purchased, prepared, and eaten quickly and economically, it has less value to Americans.  No wonder French food in America is defined by fries and mustard.  Similar reasons have prompted the celebration of beef sandwiches, deep dish pizza, and heaps of mostaccioli as Italian food in America.

Authentic French and Italian food are defined by the purity of their ingredients, the complexity of their dishes, and the slow pace of their service.  The time and expense required for its enjoyment prevents many Americans from preparing or eating French cuisine.  Italian fine dining in the United States has been diluted by large portions, packaged pastas, manufactured cheeses, iceberg lettuce, and house wines.  Unlike Italian families or first-generation Italian-Americans, Americans prepare frozen lasagna, serve boiled spaghetti with canned marinara sauce, and drench pale tomatoes in bottled oil and vinegar salad dressing.

For the hesitant, but courageous diner, fruits and vegetables offer inexpensive adventures in eating.  Their simplicity requires minimal risk.  Their purity rivals the finest restaurant meals.  Sampling kiwi fruit, jicama, lychee nuts, and papaya, is possible due to their availability and affordability.  Even plum tomatoes or tomatillos offer flavors and textures that distinguish them from American tomato varieties.  Consider expanding your dinner menus to include a fruit or vegetable novel to you once per week.  Incorporate your family’s favored ones into meals regularly.  You’ll have a chance to learn new recipes or presentations.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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