Last night, it occured to me how very lucky I am. My mother worked a 40 hours per week job, came home and cooked dinner for us. Occasionally, she would start meat in the crock-pot before leaving for work and maybe once every two or three weeks, we would eat leftovers. And then, even rarer, we would go out for dinner or my Dad would pick up pizza for us on a Friday night.
But, I think it's safe to say we had "homecooked" meals 99% of the time while we were growing up. Funny what you take for granted, until you are the one in charge of preparing meals for your own family. This thought came to me last night after a discussion with a young man who came into the store where I work.
He came around to the bakery and asked for a recomendation for a bread that would go well with "a handmade italian meal." He proudly professed to me that he was going to be making the entire meal by himself. From scratch.
I smiled politely as I thought to myself, "hey. kid. you can't buy handmade, from scratch, bread from the store. just fyi." Then I checked out the basket he was carrying. Bagged salad mix, ground beef, and Ragu. But I wouldn't dare suggest anything less than encouragement. I know that look in his eye. He was desperate to impress someone. So I sold him half a loaf of french bread and told him exactly what to do with it to make it go with, as I later discovered, spaghetti.
As I was labeling his bread, I asked if he was making the pasta himself, to which he immediately responded, "yes", under a wide smile. So proud. It was adorable. I looked at the clock, 7:49 pm. There is no way this young man was going home and handmaking pasta. Or cheese. He was carting around pre-bagged salad for crying out loud.
My assistant manager and I decided that he would probably be boiling pasta from a box, dumping in the Ragu, and calling it his own special recipe, without the slightest intention of fooling anyone. He would really consider it to be "handmade." I'm not making fun, or looking down on him, I just find it incredible that my generation's sense of "handmade. from scratch." is so far skewed that is resembles nothing of the sort.
Don't get me wrong, I love convenience foods. I sometimes enjoy cooking from scratch. But with two small children, it can be anything but enjoyable at times. As I type, I'm struggling with the decision of whether or not to grab an incredible deal on Pop Tarts tonight at the grocery store. I'm not trying to disallusion anyone by pretending that I cook from scratch meals every night of the week. But, I know...and I can appreciate...the difference.
Cooking from scratch is a labor of love, often taking much more time and effort than money. It's not easy, although my mother did a great job of making it look so. It requires all sorts of things you don't think about. Patience, the ability to follow directions, concentration, and most importantly...motivation to clean up your mess. Gag. That's my least favorite part of cooking from scratch. Soooo many dishes!
I hope that his dinner was fantastic and that he was praised greatly for his efforts. Maybe he enjoyed himself and intends to dive deeper into this world of actual preparing meals. What a unique skill to have in his arsenal of "ways to impress women". My sweet and precious Markie Poo has cooked dinner for me (discounting frozen meals from the microwave OR drive-thru fare) all of twice in our near 8 years. Neither time was during pregnancy or right after childbirth. Quiche and Turkey Burgers. Hmph.
I decided to make some handmade. from scratch. spaghetti for my family soon. This afternoon will be my 3rd attempt at making mozzarella cheese, so why not use it (assuming it actually works this time...) I'll admit, the idea of making the pasta sort of freaks me out, but I'm up for the challenge. Are you?