Cooking is often boring.
Posted on October 22
Yes, it is sometimes a source of relaxation, creativity, complicity or sweet intoxication. But on a day-to-day basis, it feels more like a repetitive and alienating task stuck in an overloaded schedule.
It is no coincidence that Geneviève O’Gleman and Marilou respectively launched the books Effortless Comfort and That simple a month ago ! They are part of an interesting line of creators and chefs who compete in ingenuity with ever easier, faster and less messy recipes.
How far will we go to convince us that cooking can be done in the snap of a finger?
It’s an honest question.
It’s definitely not a point against Genevève O’Gleman (I could eat her caramelized maple tofu every day of my life and die smiling). It’s nothing against Marilou either, whom I admire and who eloquently explained to me the reason why she is attacking the market for very simple recipes…
The book we just released is rooted in my current needs: I need silly recipes! I have little time, my daughters have completely different tastes and it’s a headache every day. I need solutions, like accepting that my recipes can include ingredients already prepared at the grocery store.
When I asked her what the most “silly” recipe in her book was, Marilou replied: “Butter and tomato spag… It’s easy and it’s still better than a lot of scrap that you can pick up on the 132 on your way home. »
It’s a good argument, but isn’t it boring to have to make your dishes always simpler? Doesn’t she feel like she’s leveling down, as they say?
“Not at all”, replied Marilou. She and her team are adapting to today’s reality. And today, we are running out of time. It’s a creative engine like any other.
It’s also a newer way to promote cookbooks, I learned.
“During the Great Depression of the 1930s, food prices rose, scarcity set in, and there was a movement to encourage women to produce what they needed to feed their families,” historian Catherine Ferland. The Canadian government has published a whole series of pamphlets to encourage people to sow their seeds, grow vegetables on a small plot of land and preserve them. Some food companies have also produced guides to show how to feed a family of eight with a can of tuna, for example. Industry came as a backup: “Here is a way to feed more people.” The recipes revolved around a strictly nourishing function. »
It was not until the 1980s that cookbooks praised a certain speed of execution.
“From the moment women keep their paid jobs even when they become mothers,” historian Caroline Durand explains to me. With this pace of life, cooking must be done faster and faster and practical books come to respond to this pressure. It’s also a way to encourage people to buy the book even if they don’t really have time to cook…”
Hello, guides, then. Hello, also, frozen meals! The microwave becomes the savior of the world in a hurry, but the miracle solution is short-lived…
A tipping point was made when we realized that certain amounts of trans fats, salt and sugar could be dangerous. A nutritional side has been added to the practical side and it is a construction that has been progressing since the turn of the 2000s.
Catherine Ferland, historian
“We know that time is precious, but that it’s important to cook, so we offer strategies to make it easier,” she adds.
The historian cites me different trends: meals cooked on the same plate, pasta made in a single pan, the slow cooker, the very popular air fryer, etc.
Fads come and go, but all have in common the promise of saving us time, money and health. Above all, they insist that a healthy meal is a meal prepared at home.
“We come to revalue domesticity, remarks Caroline Durand, but we adapt it to modern life by making it as uncomplicated as possible. »
But is it really that easy?
I know that I cook phenomenally slowly (I’m constantly afraid of cutting off my finger with my poor dexterity), but I also know that the time required to make a recipe depends on our skills, our tools and the context in where we are… I have the impression that chefs sometimes underestimate the magnitude of the task, however simple it may be.
“I wonder if there is not a TV show effect” on the books, reflects Caroline Durand. The shows take place in a specific time, which promotes an ideal world in which we cook quickly. We know that there is editing, but we are still presented with a kitchen-show. The result will not only be good, but impressive… As if the kitchen should be practical, optimal, productive and spectacular. »
You want your butter and tomato spag to look good. In fact, you want any pasta except the ones you usually cook…
“Always eating the same thing evokes boredom, so we want to renew our culinary repertoire,” continues the history teacher. For that, we need simple and quick recipes. You know what’s quick and easy? The recipes we know by heart… Except that it’s boring, eating our good old macaroni. Socially, we highly value culinary diversity. »
We’re running out of time and our standards are high, both in terms of taste, spectacle and novelty. Books that promise us simplicity attempt to help us achieve these goals.
Maybe that’s what it takes to convince us to cook at home, basically: the hope that we will manage not to be disappointed.
(In less than 30 minutes.)