Labor is being taken

out of cooking meals

We may run the risk of sounding like our parents, but - what is this world coming to?

In addition to having another generation asking questions ending with prepositions, new labor-saving products, doubling as food items, are appearing in our grocery stores. If the new foods are to be taken seriously, home food preparation, a basic living skill developed when cave women first threw a mastodon leg into an open fire, will also become extinct.

We've known for some time that home-cooked meals are on a rapid decline. An increasing number of families are turning to fast food restaurants and takeout deli feasts served in Styrofoam containers. I recently noticed plastic bags of raw, peeled potatoes in the produce section of a local grocery store.

Emancipation from peeling and quartering five or six potatoes, a task that might take up two or three minutes of quality time, carries a steep price. According to the price on the plastic bag, peeled potatoes are worth about $3,000 a ton.

Time magazine recently reported that other foods are also becoming less "labor intensive." The magazine notes, "Food researchers at Oklahoma State University have created individually wrapped slices of peanut butter, and Smucker's new line of frozen peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches is already available in some cities."

Eating utensils, such as knives, forks and chopsticks, will also become obsolete after the general public is introduced to incrEdibles' microwavable macaroni and cheese on a stick or its push-pop scrambled eggs. Facts are often funnier than fiction - those are real products.

Food preparation will surely become a lost art as the basic food groups become known as Frozen, Thawed, Instant, Reconstituted and Synthetic.

New and improved products of the future will undoubtedly include instant water, frozen toast, instant ice cubes, and frozen hard-boiled eggs. "Cooking a meal from scratch" will become a foreign concept.

Compliments and criticisms about meals will also reflect changes.

"He's definitely a gourmet defroster!"

"Why can't you thaw food like my mother did?"

A dinner guest might exclaim, "These peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches are sensational!"

To which the humble hostess will respond, "Do you really think so? I thawed them by myself."

Anyone capable of pushing a button on a microwave oven will be considered to be a cook. A person who can thaw and serve three or more frozen entrees at the same time and garnish plates with sprigs of parsley will be known as a "chef."

Bake-off competitions will become defrost-offs.

Traditional stove-oven combinations will only exist as dusty antiques or very expensive countertops.

Reading and deciphering skills in general will drop sharply when cookbooks and recipe files are eliminated from our lives.

Kitchen aprons will read, "Kiss the Defroster."

Eventually, most homemakers will resemble the woman described by Alan Ayckbourn in "Joking Apart": "Louise doesn't claim to be anything of a cook. She really doesn't see eye to eye with a stove at all."
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