Do you think people these days are better or worse cooks than the past?

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Posted 11/4/2013 by Pretty In PeaNK in NSBR Board
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Pretty In PeaNK

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Posted: 11/4/2013 6:59:54 PM
I was thinking about it today, and wondered if people in general are better or worse cooks than people, let's say, 50 or 100 years ago.

For one thing, we have the Internet, social media, TV, and recipe websites with ratings which all help us to find that perfect recipe. (Dead Aunt cookies, anyone?)

But on the other hand, it seems more people than ever are eating out and buying convenience foods, so maybe people aren't learning or improving their cooking skills like the past because they don't need to.

What do you think?


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AngieR
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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:07:19 PM
I think we have access to a lot more ingredients than cooks did 50 or 100 years ago. If not for the Food Network, magazines, blogs, etc. I wouldn't even know about ingredients that don't grow in my part of the country. 100 years ago people grew most of what they cooked with anyway. Sometimes they just had to be creative with what they had on hand, which I am not very good at. I think we just live in a totally different cooking era than our grandparents and great grandparents.




megmc
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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:12:26 PM
It depends.

I think that past cooks knew how to use more of an animal than we do. They also could harvest more wild food. Some of their recipes we can not improve upon.

But today we have more of a variety to cook with. We may not be able to improve on family recipes but we can add new recipes.

AussieMeg
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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:17:25 PM
A bit of both I think.

My grandmothers could cook cakes and puddings etc without following a recipe, and they just knew what to do. Sponge cakes turned out perfectly every time. A lot of people today can't do that.

But the food was so freaking BORING!! Meat and 3 veg. Every night.

People these days are much more adventurous cooks, even if they have lost some of the basic skills.


Hol-meister
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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:18:02 PM
I think your question is twofold. I think people cooked more often, but maybe weren't the best cooks. Now, I think you have the opportunities to be a better cook, but I think less people cook then say 50 years ago.

I thought growing up my mom was a good cook. Now that I am older I would have to take that back. I am a much better cook than she is. But I follow recipes and she doesn't. She thinks it doesn't matter, it will all work out. Sometimes it doesn't.. Anyway, that's my take on it.


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StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:21:43 PM
I think that the people who do cook are better cooks because of the many reasons already listed. But I think there are less people who cook on a day to day basis.

My ILs and my dad always have stories about their moms cooking veggies to death, you know until the green ones are yellow and lifeless. They all didn't learn to like veggies until they were adults. My mom grew up and asia and the prepared veggies very differently back then compared to the US.

Ca angel

Lumo
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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:28:07 PM
I don't think it's better or worse, just evolved. Different.


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Ms. Liz
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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:52:25 PM

Here I am being old, but ...

I think the food, back just 30 years ago, was better.

Do any of you remember a time when chicken tasted like something? When eggs tasted like something? When bread tasted like something? Granted, these are all bland foods to begin with, but I swear I remember them actually having flavor.

Is it just me and my aging taste buds, or does food suck now?



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Patti3566
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Posted: 11/4/2013 7:54:16 PM
I think the people that actually cook are probably better by way of versatility and variety.

People that don't actually cook or rely on packaged/processed food are obviously not.

Maite
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Posted: 11/4/2013 8:02:13 PM
There were good cooks back then and there are good cooks now. It sure doesn't take much to cook a meal, it's just a matter of trying.



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Posted: 11/4/2013 8:05:23 PM

Here I am being old, but ...

I think the food, back just 30 years ago, was better.

Do any of you remember a time when chicken tasted like something? When eggs tasted like something? When bread tasted like something? Granted, these are all bland foods to begin with, but I swear I remember them actually having flavor.

Is it just me and my aging taste buds, or does food suck now?



I agree with the chicken and the eggs. Fresh fruits and veggies are a lot less flavorful now too, unless you have access to a farmers market or a grower.



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Pea-T-A-Mom
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Posted: 11/4/2013 8:11:31 PM
It depends.

There is so much convenience food available, and people are too busy to cook. So their families might be eating a lot of additives and preservatives.

I remember trying to cook nutritious meals while working, in the 1990's, and I had family recipes and cookbooks I'd purchased available to me.

We joined a CSA farm share a few years ago, and some of the stuff we get, Scapes? Tomatillos? Kale? Were items I'd never cooked, and had no experience with. Even things I had experience with, such as cauliflower and beets, get old after awhile if you just keep throwing them in salads.

Had we done this in the 90's, I don't know if I could have found recipes in my cookbooks to utilize all this produce effectively. Now, I consult the internet, and search for the most highly rated, healthy recipes.

We are eating a lot more diverse foods, and all the veggies are organic, and picked the morning I pick them up.


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o-pea-one
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Posted: 11/4/2013 8:12:57 PM
I think cooking is a lost art. There are people that cook, and it is palatable, but for the most part, we don't have as many people who understand the basics of cooking. Same with baking. It is a lost art.

This is because there is a ready available market of prepackaged food items. Cake mixes, etc.

I don't often cook with a recipe. I know what works well, and can take it from there. (Baking is a whole nother story! I stink at it and have to follow a recipe by the book) But I do know how to make basics without a prepackage item. (cookies from scratch, as well as cakes)

I think we have evolved into understanding how to not cook things to death, but we also don't have to deal with foods that could possibly make us sick because of lack of refrigeration. WE don't use as much as we can from nature, because we don't know and were not taught all the things that are edible in the wild.

We do have the knowledge and resources to try much more than our ancestors did because of the change in availability.



Heather



scrappower
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Posted: 11/4/2013 8:13:49 PM
Just different. There are atill good cooks and bad cooks. More variety now though. I still find food to have good flavor....we get lots of local produce and things though so that might be why.



anxiousmom
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Posted: 11/4/2013 9:19:48 PM
Not sure, I think the biggest thing I see is the reliance on convenience items to simplify cooking. We have so many shortcuts available that I do think that the "art" of cooking is slowly disappearing.

I had a couple of friends over not too long ago for dinner. I made mac and cheese for the kids. Two of those friends, who are in their 30's, had never made mac and cheese from scratch. They didn't know how to make a basic roux, which to me is a fundamental cooking skill that so many dishes are based upon.

I just seems to me that while I still see lots of people cooking, I see a lots of those people going for the quick and easy.

hop2
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Posted: 11/4/2013 9:24:58 PM
Yes and no. In many ways it is easier to be a better cook. More ingredients, better tools, more collaboration. stuff like that. On the other hand I think people get lazy and know a great deal less. As another pea mentioned less of the animal is used, less cooking from scratch, reliance on tools and gadgets.

Could go either way.

icedcoffee
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Posted: 11/4/2013 9:25:36 PM

I don't think it's better or worse, just evolved. Different.


^^^^I agree


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Vi
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Posted: 11/4/2013 10:07:08 PM
I remember eating some awesome food 50 years ago. I grew up as a preacher's kid in the midwest and there were some great cooks that brought some fantastic-tasting food to the potlucks. We lived in a ranching community and the food from fresh butchered animals and home grown vegetables couldn't be beat. Our family was invited out a lot and I remember eating some new creamed potatoes flavored with fresh dill and turkey. My Mom had a lot of turkey eggs given to her because there were a couple of turkey ranch owners in our congregation. These eggs were mainly double-yolked and we had some great angel food cakes. It all makes me hungry just to think about the good food.

However, with the internet and other links to food, there are some good cooks now too. Like other people have said -- it is just different.

Vi

Zanette McCoy
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Posted: 11/4/2013 11:15:14 PM
I think in general people are worse cooks. However, not everyone fits in the general category


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Long ago Barney
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Posted: 11/4/2013 11:45:07 PM
Both. Those who want to cook well certainly do. But I think n general people r too lazy to cook.


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BeckyTech
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Posted: 11/5/2013 2:02:05 AM
Perhaps it falls into where your interests and concerns are.

People who are interested in cooking and/or concerned about what they eat have or make the time to put into it and develop their skills. Maybe that's an area where they use their free time rather than other things.

People who have no interest can fall back on the convenience/eating out thing. Or maybe compromise on the ingredients/health thing for as much time as they want to put into it. If you have no interest in something, it's hard to put in enough effort to get good at it.

I'm not sure if cooks are any better or worse than cooks in the past, but if it's an area of interest, you certainly have more resources at your fingertips today than in the past.

gar
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Posted: 11/5/2013 3:38:34 AM
We have much easier access to a vastly wider variety of ingredients which means we're likely to be cooking a much wider variety of food than previous generations but on the other hand we also have much more convenience food at our fingertips which for some, means they don't 'cook' as such, much at all.

I can makes cakes without a recipe and I never buy pre-prep'd meals (although I do use packet sauces etc) but that doesn't mean I'm a *good* cook

I think we're probably less resourceful, less creative, less careful to find ways of using leftovers etc etc but those who do cook are more adventurous.

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pelirroja
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Posted: 11/5/2013 4:17:10 AM
I think peoples' palates have become more sophisticated. Years ago, access to spices and ingredients was limited to certain geographical areas and times of year. Now, you can get almost anything year round, there seems to be a lack of seasonality. As far as better or worse, there were plenty of bad cooks years ago: my Mom had a Peg Bracken "I Hate to Cook Book". Cooking was something you were required to do whether you liked it or not, whether you were good at it or not. Food availability wasn't as easy as it is now and going to a restaurant was a celebratory event; it just wasn't done that often and it usually had emotional significance or milestone moments associated with it.

I recently read an autobiography by Julia Child, who was a terrible cook when she first got married (that was one of her motivations to go to cooking school). Julia said anyone can become a cook: it's about technique. But to become a gourmet, it is about the palate. You can buy all the right ingredients but there's still something special about the way things are put together and combined. Cooking is an art and a skill but it can be practiced and acquired.

Food accessibility is better but the taste of the food is lacking. Breeding in genetic hardiness means you lose something in flavor. Nowadays, I often see beautiful ginormous tomatoes and apples that have no flavor but they sure are pretty. Three decades ago if you wanted boneless chicken breast, you took out the kitchen shears and cut the roaster chicken up into the pieces you needed. It seems very few people know technique, butchering or prepping anymore. And I agree there is much more waste than there was back in the day. Kids look incredulous when finding out a single chicken can yield three meals. Nowadays, they just think of that night's meal and nothing more beyond that. My Nana used to make chicken foot soup, so maybe she thought my generation was wasteful, too.


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dotingmom
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Posted: 11/5/2013 5:27:11 AM
I think we are more adventurous cooks, but I don't know if I equate that with better. I so wish I knew how to make my mom's pot roast and gravy, but I just can't get it the same. And my Nonna made the best potato and milk soup (probably a poor man's soup - but it tasted so good).


peaname
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Posted: 11/5/2013 5:59:38 AM
I think there are many more people who 'don't cook' nowadays and in generations past that wasn't an option. Don't cook, can't cook, won't cook, etc. I just don't buy it. My sister has her masters degree and is working on her PhD yet claims she can't cook.


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Posted: 11/5/2013 6:30:11 AM
We sure do have more resources and access today. But I still have recipes that were passed down from my grandmother's grandmother. Typed up on cards on a real typewriter (that was a big deal!) They are still delicious and current.

My mom was a fabulous cook, and used fresh ingredients from local farmers. I can only aspire to be as good a cook as my mom.

o-pea-one
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Posted: 11/5/2013 7:01:59 AM
I have a very old soda bread recipe that has been handed down for years. Cracks me up on how it is worded. Shortening the size of an egg (hello what size egg??), pinch of this, splash of this, handful of that. I am finally happy with my measurements. I love that it was written this way.


Heather



molove
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Posted: 11/5/2013 8:35:13 AM
Both. Some people have very particular tastes and have grown up eating spicy, complex foods. Others eat like a toddler their whole life.

My mom is the best cook I know and cooks the best Japanese food I've ever eaten anywhere. Better than any restaurant. It's the real deal and I've been eating it all my life. So, I KNOW Japanese food.

I never had a taco or burrito until I went to high school and my little universe expanded a bit. I didn't grow up on a rural farm or anything, I grew up in Seattle!

I like to think that friends that ate at my house were exposed to Japanese food and that it expanded their palates

So many more options now with cooking, I think we have better cooks overall. But those old school moms know how to throw down. They are the best as far as I'm concerned.

*rosebud*
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Posted: 11/5/2013 8:46:32 AM
I think fewer people cook these days, so there are fewer good cooks.

I think if you want to cook you have more tools at your disposal to be a good cook.

I LOVE to cook. Every week, we shop at a big old school market (fruit vendors, vegetable vendors, bakers, butchers, fishmongers. I am so fortunate to have access to all of that good food, and I feel morally obligated to be a cook with it. I think I should have been born in another era. I really get joy from cooking for and feeding my family.

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Posted: 11/5/2013 8:51:54 AM
I think the art of cooking as a whole was lost when convenience foods began to dominate the grocery landscape in the 1950s, making cooks almost dependent on pre-fabricated food rather than making food themselves. Our palates as a whole have become acustomed to the fake flavouring of pre-fabricated foods, thus eschewing real food because it "doesn't taste right" (I get this all time about maple syrup and strawberries) and that the real thing is too expensive. It's maddening really. However, I think there's starting to be a swing backward away from pre-fabricated foods and back to the whole food cookery of history.

BuckeyeSandy
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Posted: 11/5/2013 8:52:55 AM
Another that agrees with "mix"

We tend to make the past better than it really was.



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Posted: 11/5/2013 9:50:36 AM
Both, I think that in generations past they knew how to do things that many would never think to do now, render lard(which I am doing today), make cheese and butter, milk cows and know what to do with the resulting milk beyond 'drink it', bread or biscuits from scratch without a recipe, butchering an animal and using more than just the prime cuts, canning ... all those are skills that due to conveniences many have lost.
Perhaps it is more that they were better homemakers than most today.

I do believe that for those who do cook they are much better cooks than in the past, like others have said, with the availability of so much knowledge at our fingertips and ingredients our grandparents would never have heard of, we are more varied and accomplished cooks.


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Posted: 11/5/2013 10:02:38 AM
I collect vintage cookbooks. I adore them and have books dating back centuries to more recent times.I try to aim for the 1900stto the 1960s. What you see is a slowtrickle of convience foods. It starts in the late 1800s and then intensifies during the 1930s and after the War.

Regardless older recipe books have no seasonings of any kind. None. Most bakery items have very little sugar and no salt (essential to balance the flavors) or they have way too much sugar which ends up cooking out anyway. THe balances are frequently wrong on most recipes. It took a long time to get where we are now.

My absolute favorite cookbooks are those involving Jello. I hate the stuff, always have, but the recipes kill! Meat and cheese suspended in Jello slathered in mayo and cottage cheese. Yuck. And these date back to Jello's inception. My oldest Jello book is from 1923.

I tend to think people romantize the past, especially about food. A quick lok at my cookbooks will tell you that. Yes there were gems but even now would need something extra to oomph them up.


~Missy

lisabb
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Posted: 11/5/2013 10:27:18 AM
I think people who are good are better nowadays because of the variety of ingredients now available.

People who are bad cooks are worse nowadays because of the wide range of convenience foods now available.

I am a product of the 70s so my diet as a child consisted of traditional home cooked meals and Findus crispy pancakes!


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child of grace
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Posted: 11/5/2013 10:29:20 AM
As a woman in my 60's, I think most are worse, plus so many don't even cook!

M in Carolina
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Posted: 11/5/2013 1:46:41 PM
I definitely think the vast amount of ingredients available, year round availability of ingredients, better food safety inspections and storage, and variety of cooking techniques and recipes make it hard to compare my cooking skills with those of my grandmother, great aunts, and the vintage and antique cookbooks I've collected about colonial Southern cooking and techniques of my grandmothers and the recipes/techniques they shared that were passed down from their grandmothers.

So much changed in the 20th century. Shortening was supposed to be the end of heart disease brought on from cooking and frying with lard and bacon drippings. Cereals and other fortified foods ended many diseases like rickets caused by malnutrition and limited availability of a variety of food.

My grandparents fared better than urban relatives during the depression food wise because they lived on farms and were able to grow and preserve their own food and gather wild ingredients like dandelions (my mom and aunt were just telling me yesterday how every part of the dandelion was used as they remembered a family friend locally famous for his dandelion wine), wild onions, grapes, etc.

Most meals were vegetables seasoned with salted and cured pork--strick of lean, strick of fat, lard, bacon, bacon drippings, ham hocks--which not only imparted flavor but had enough meat to make a bowl of kidney beans or collards a substantial meal along with some cornbread.

Corn had finally become treated on a large scale to prevent Pellagra by nixtamalization. This was a huge epidemic in the South at the end of the 19th century. History of nixtamalization Cornmeal was a fixture of my grandparents and parents' diets. Fresh buttermilk with crumpled up cornbread or fried cornbread patties sliced in half with a pat of butter and honey or maple syrup or slices of onion were frequent breakfasts and snacks.

My grandparents had to cook certain foods to keep their families healthy. We have so much more variety of nutritious food and so many vitamin fortified foods that we don't have to worry about malnutrition to the extent that our ancestors did.

As for baking, recipes are crucial. There are a few recipes I know by heart, but the science involved in baking requires exact measurements and certain ingredients. Substituting baking soda for baking powder or self rising flour for regular doesn't always work. As a child, I tried to perfect the pound cake, but mine kept sinking in the middle because I subbed self rising flour for regular flour. I also discovered that lighter Southern winter wheat flour, White Lily is a favorite, makes biscuits and cakes much lighter than regular national brand flours.

I love the exactness of baking. I also love the huge variety of types of cakes, flavors, and frostings/fillings/glazes. I'm amazed by the different desserts and textures achievable from sugar, flour and eggs. It's amazing! I love seeing the look on people's faces as they taste a truly homemade from scratch cake and are blown away at how much better a homemade dessert can be compared to box mixes and mass produced products.

I love how I can share love and compassion with someone by brining them their favorite meal or dessert. I love how friends hint and practically beg me to fix them my Southern skillet fried chicken or pot roast with mashed potatoes and homemade gravy. Great food can brighten anyone's day.

I think my grandmother and great aunts would be pleased that I'm keeping their favorite dishes and desserts alive. Along with the recipes, family stories and traditions are kept alive as well. I also know my grandmother, who along with my aunt, taught me so much, are amazed at how much more I've learned about cooking as well as the different techniques from cultures around the world. Although, when I'm rolling out fresh pasta, it brings me back to my grandmother's kitchen as she teaches me how to make light as a feather dumplin sliders for her famous chicken and dumplins. The techniques are identical.




scrappygirlnextdoor
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Posted: 11/5/2013 1:50:23 PM
Two kinds of people, in my circle of friends: either they're super healthy, shop at Whole Foods, eat organic OR, they're the kind of people that eat fast food, order pizzas regularly, etc. Due to major food allergies in our family, we fall into the first category.


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BrinaG
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Posted: 11/5/2013 1:55:07 PM
I think that those who like to cook have more options - access to more diverse ingredients and recipes for new and different dishes.

Those who don't like to cook have more options as well - more prepared foods in the supermarket and more restaurants that deliver.

There have always been good cooks and bad cooks. In the past people who didn't enjoy cooking had to do it anyway.

PEArfect
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Posted: 11/5/2013 1:57:38 PM
I think this falls into the 'just different' category. Convenience foods seem to be the way of the times. It's inconvenient for most to cook/bake, or to teach their children how to cook/bake. Sad, but true.

I cook and bake a lot (no fast food), but I'll admit that I don't often ask my daughters to help in the kitchen. I'm working on changing that now. My mom didn't want to 'burden' me with cooking or baking, so I learned on my own after I got married. My daughters are always asking to help, so I need to take the time to teach them.


Jen


busypea
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Posted: 11/5/2013 2:22:55 PM
I think many of the people who can/do cook now probably are better cooks due to the availability of ingredients and tools, knowledge of ethnic foods, and many other things enable those who are inclined to cook able to make things that simply weren't possible for - or even known to - typical home cooks "back in the day."

However, I think far more people were proficient cooks in prior generations. The "I don't cook" mindset was pretty much unknown. The level of convenience foods that require virtually no preparation and routine eating out just did not exist.

Now, cooking seems to be optional and lots of people opt out.

moveablefeast
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Loc: Northern Virginia

Posted: 11/5/2013 2:23:00 PM
It's a mix of both, I think.

My grandmother was a master of making a dollar stretch, and didn't waste anything. But she cooked with a lot of salt and fat, because those were her generation's primary means of flavoring things.

I knew dozens of families growing up - whose parents are my parents' generation - who had no idea how to cook. Mostly their kids ate PBJ on white. My friends wanted to come to my house because my mom cooked.

I cook, but nothing complicated. Last night dinner was a pork roast with the veggies in the pot, tonight dinner will be Italian sausage with peppers and onions, tomorrow is chicken braised in lemon sauce with green beans. Simple. I don't make my own stock to braise the chicken, I buy an organic stock concentrate and consider that more than good enough.

Some of the techniques - like making a roux - are not necessarily part of everybody's cooking skill because they're not part of everybody's menu. I made gumbo last winter and that used a roux, but that's the last time I made a roux.

I don't really even make mac and cheese (gasp - I buy it at the store - Wegmans premade mac and cheese from the convenience case is delish!). And I'm really okay with buying some things premade. That's not really a skill thing - I *can* do it, I just don't.

I don't do the same things my grandmother did - bread always from scratch, homemade stocks, dressings from scratch, things like that. I do cook, I do try new things, I do like being in the kitchen. Knowing how to cook has always been important to me, but actually doing it is not always at the top of my priority list. Hence some convenience foods and some old-fashioned techniques that are no longer really a major part of my food lexicon. I don't live my grandmother's life, so I don't cook the way my grandmother cooked.

Sparehead3
StuckOnPeas

PeaNut 446,722
November 2009
Posts: 2,649
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Loc: PNW USA

Posted: 11/5/2013 2:33:24 PM
A few years ago I was bored so I made biscuits from scratch while at the in-laws. First I had to go out and buy baking soda because the can my mother in law had in her cupboard expired in the 80s... and I actually had to take tupperware out of Grandma's oven so I could use it.

Everyone was raving about how great these biscuits were. These were people in their 60's and I have to wonder from the conversation if they had ever picked up a cookbook...

Really the biscuits were not that good. And the recipe was not that complicated. Dump some stuff in a bowl, plop the dough on a cookie sheet, bake.


IScrapCrap
StuckOnPeas

PeaNut 570,639
October 2012
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Loc: pea formerly known as GIPfunny

Posted: 11/5/2013 3:23:01 PM
I have no idea. It seems like in order to be deemed a "good cook" on this board you must be a foodie, have infinite number of ingredients to cook a meal deemed worthy only if organic or free range items are used in the recipe.

In my world? I think it's about the same, maybe worse. No one will die starving though.

momstime
StuckOnPeas

PeaNut 270,078
July 2006
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Loc: the land of lollipops and rainbows

Posted: 11/5/2013 3:38:23 PM
My Grandma, my mom and I are all fantastic cooks. My cooking is so good that my family prefers to not eat at restaurants, and when they do they will typically tell me that the way I make (whatever) is much better.


My secret ingredient is love.


By the way, as we age we lose taste buds...so things you remember as so flavorful and delicious as a child or young adult might taste bland made the exact same way as an older adult.




LemonaideLinda
BucketHead

PeaNut 221,255
August 2005
Posts: 867
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Posted: 11/5/2013 4:08:03 PM
It seems to me that compared to 25 years ago, there are fewer people percent wise with basic level cooking skills. As our population grows there are more people numberwise, but if you compared statistically by percent of population, nowadays, there'd be a smaller percentage of people with basic cooking skills.

And a lower percentage of the general population has moderate level cooking skills compared to 25 years ago. However, with the advent of cable tv shows and Food TV, more people now are "foodies" than say 25 years ago. Their skill level may not match/equal their food knowledge, but they have tasted a wider variety of foods and are more open to other cultures' foods than people were 25 years ago.

FWIW, many of my friends are good cooks, but they eat out much more often than my mother's or my grandmother's generation did. So they're not cooking as often, whether they have the skills/inclination or not!

myboysnme
Living life on the left

PeaNut 69,081
February 2003
Posts: 7,959
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Posted: 11/5/2013 6:39:03 PM
I think overall they are worse because girls don't learn cooking pretty much universally like they once did. Even the poorest women knew how to put a meal on the table.

I think it kind of started with the TV dinner I hate to say it - in the 50's along with McDonalds. That was the beginning I think.


My choice is to not take it personally - people have opinions. Particularly people here.-Peabay 12/29/11
I know this is assuming, but I'm really starting to think you are one of those "entitled" peas - Dalayney 4/2/12
When someone elects you Queen of Two Peas, then you can make the rules. - Sue_Pea 12/22/13
"Myboysnme,...I bow down to you, oh queen of the scrapping goodness" - Irish Eyes 3/9/14
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mlana
PeaFixture

PeaNut 226,155
October 2005
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Posted: 11/5/2013 6:55:16 PM
Both of my grandmothers were excellent cooks and masters of stretching a meal to feed extra guests. My grandma, Melba, was a boardinghouse cook renowned for her biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and fried apple tarts. My Nornie, Mom's mom, grew up in coastal areas and she can make stews and gumbos that we travel a couple of hundred miles to eat. Neither of them ever consulted a recipe book, though Nornie loves to look thru my collection for ideas.

My mom cooks only when there is no other choice. Given her druthers, she'd eat out every meal. Still, she is a decent cook as long as she has a recipe to follow. Growing up, I didn't know she wasn't Emeril and I didn't know we were poor, so I thought her end of the month, no more money meals were real treats. Those are the comfort foods that I crave today as an adult. She joined Weight Watchers when I was 12 and our food life took an abrupt turn for the better. She stopped frying food or cooking every veggie with fat until it was mush. Using the recipes she learned as part of her diet plan, she taught my brother and I a whole new way of eating. My acne cleared up and all of us lost about 40 lbs apiece.

I think part of the difference in skill sets was that my mom worked a full time job outside of the home that didn't involve cooking of any sort. Neither of my grandmothers worked outside of the home much, but when they did, they worked as cooks or laundresses. They spent a lot of time honing their cooking skills while Mom just wanted to get dinner on the table so she should do the rest of her household chores.

Marcy



Simply_Lovely
AncestralPea

PeaNut 463,295
April 2010
Posts: 4,172
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Loc: New York City

Posted: 11/5/2013 7:05:34 PM

My sister has her masters degree and is working on her PhD yet claims she can't cook.


Unless her degrees are in Culinary Arts, I don't see how that's relevant!




Meow!

TexasBorn
PeaNut

PeaNut 543,185
February 2012
Posts: 425
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Posted: 11/5/2013 10:46:14 PM
I do think food had better flavor years ago but there is more variety now that with the diverse population now we all try new things. I remember in high school we made broccoli in home ec class and our teacher said we had to taste it. Boy was I panicking. I loved it and went home and asked my Mom why we never had it. She grew up on homegrown and she'd never tasted it. She said it was a food that they never grew because it was considered frivolous. We got some and I fixed it and we had it a lot then. Neither of my girls had a chance at home ec. Most schools don't have it. Woodworking is a thing of the past too. I'd much rather my kids learn the basics of cooking than some of the things they learn today. I can put a meal on the table with very few ingredients. Might not be totally healthy but nobody would starve. (and it would taste good.)

lesserknownpea
BucketHead

PeaNut 451,429
January 2010
Posts: 616
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Posted: 11/6/2013 3:53:52 AM
I grew up in the 60's

My Mom loved to cook and was good at it. She was one of Julia Child's earliest fans. Always had a subscription to Gourmet magazine.

My stepdad was an Okie straight out of the dust bowl. He taught me how to make a mean sausage gravy, and chicken and dumplings. Oh and beans, how we loved a pot of beans.

So I know I was lucky to learn real cooking skills that have stood me in good stead my whole life.

BUT--back in the 60's, and continuing, there was a lot of convenience food used in everyday life. TV dinners, fish sticks, chef boy ar dee. Cream of whatever crap soup casseroles and jello molds. I was lucky that my parents introduced me to more sophisticated foods; artichokes were an early favorite for instance.

Today, I live with my DS and DIL and they are part of the new, food loving pinterest generation. I consider myself a good cook, and got no complaints when raising my kids, but I'm blown away by the creativity and dedication shown by my children when planning and executing meals. Just the other day my DS made gluten free beef Welllington. It was delicious.

I know many 20 or 30 somethings that are applying themselves to cooking in a big way. Either to be healthier, more adventurous, show off for their friends, or try to make food as yummy as some of the good stuff they have tried at restaurants. The attitude is one of limitless opportunities. You can cook your family some amazing meals for less than a trip to a fast food joint. And there are so many blogs and websites and tutorials sharing the magic.

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