I was reading Michael Ruhlman's blog today, wherein he summarized Michael Pollan's NYTimes Magazine Article about the demise of the home cook, and then went off on a bit of a rant about the difference between "Cooks" and "Foodies".
Honestly, I don't know what category I fall into. I love fine ingredients and different foods, and I love to cook, although my skills are limited and my time even more so. But still, I manage to keep everyone fed and occasionally delight one family member or another with something I've whipped up.
The whole conversation on Ruhlman's blog, however, underscored an observation I made this weekend.
On Saturday, we took long-time friends, a few of their kids and our two girls out to dinner. It was a local place that specializes in Brazilian barbeque, outstanding salad bar, all you can eat meat on a sword. The guys’ inner cavemen were howling with joy at the prospect. It had all the makings of a great evening. Except that it wasn’t really all that great. It was crowded and a bit noisy, the food was good, but the service chaotic, everyone over-ate and went home not feeling well, we really didn’t have the conversation we hoped to have, it was expensive, and all in all, wasn’t a terribly satisfying experience.
I’m contrasting that with Sunday night, when I made homemade pizza crust and the four of us decorated pizzas with whatever we wanted, baked them on the pizza stone, and giggled for most of the experience. The food was fresh, delicious, everyone stopped when they were full, because the left-overs weren’t going anywhere, and it was extremely satisfying. And it made me think that, had we chosen the pizzas in the kitchen option for Saturday, we might all have had a much better evening. For about 20% of the price.
Most people say they’d rather go out to eat with friends, rather than cook at home, because they don’t want the time and hassle of cooking a meal – they’d rather spend the time in conversation. I find increasingly, however, that I get less stress and more “quality time” with my friends when we cook together.
I hope cooking doesn’t go out of style in the manner Mr. Pollan says it will. I think it’ll be a loss for our mental health, even more so than for our physical health.
What about you? Do you prefer to eat out with friends or cook in? Do you have a favorite "cooking as socialization" recipe?
Photo Credit: FoodTV.ca