Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cooking canon cans convenience

Have you ever noticed how many food commercials there are on prime time TV? One right after another, they just don't let up: images of sumptuously steaming hot meals for insatiable ever-ready appetites.

I suppose advertisers count on the assumption that all of us are hungry. If not, they are bound and determined to make our mouths water while we sit perched in our Lazy Boys, cravenly glued to our giant flat-screened TVs.

My problem is that when I actually do order a meal at a fast food restaurant, which is seldom, the food never looks as plump and deliciously juicy as the larger-than-life images portrayed on the tube.

Most fast food I’ve consumed is either slimy, dried out, wilted, served at room temperature or all of the above.

Besides, I'm really not much of a hurry up and eat person. The bottom line is that preconfigured food, ready to cook in minutes is plainly not natural to me. Whatever innate goodness it may have possessed originally has been processed right out of it.

As you may have guessed, there's really nothing speedy in my canon of cooking. I don’t serve Minute Rice or dinners from cans or boxes. I believe meals need to be slowly loved on and nurtured into a heavenly soup, a heartwarming stew or a sleep-on-it pie.

In my cookbook of life, any recipe short of spending several hours poring over a hot stove, mixing, measuring and fussing with fixings is not the kind of meal I really want.

Besides, home-cooking makes the house smell so – how would you say – homey. What could be better than cohabiting with aromas of pot roast or pasta sauce pleasantly invading olfactory glands and seeping throughout every room in the house?

You see, I believe that nothing is ever lost on down-home cooking. Inconvenient at times, it has the potential to transform a bad day into, perhaps, the one and only good thing that happens. It’s a powerful saving grace worth defending.

When was the last time you had French fries or a Whopper at a funeral lunch? Probably never. Even after funerals, when we wish we could run back to our on-the-go lifestyle, we meticulously prepare and gracefully serve a nice sit-down meal. Slowly and thoughtfully made, it’s not just any meal; it’s a calculating device to soothe forlorn hearts, mingling with hushed and sometimes uncomfortable conversations over ham salad sandwiches, pickled cucumbers and lemon meringue pie.

My father used to say, "If you want it all, you have to give up something."

I say, if you want a quick meal, you have to give up all kinds of good stuff through which kindness and love are indissoluble.

2011 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.


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