Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nobody's home: Is the death of the home cook imminent?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Earlier this week, Tasting Toronto had the pleasure of heading down to Edward Levesque's Kitchen in trendy Leslieville, for a lively panel discussion around whether or not home cooking is dead. A keystone of the talk was Michael Pollan's article in The New York Times magazine: Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, bemoaning the decline of home cooked meals. His most recent book is “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.”

As tasting is Tasting Toronto's primary mandate, we have to mention a couple of delicious chicken appetizers we sampled: Stacey's favourite was the chicken sausage medallion with cilantro and guacamole served on a spoon, and Mark's favourite was the chicken liver terrine with an onion jam. We also had fried rice balls, chicken pizza, egg salad, rosemary frites, chicken satays with coconut-sesame dip, and ample red wine.

The event was brought to us by the Chicken Farmers of Canada. Theresa Albert from Food Network Canada moderated the panel discussion.

The panel had three bright and awesome foodie folks who helped colour the conversation:
    Anna Withrow, Food writer / Founder of the LIVERight Awards (did you know a young child with a fatty liver has the same amount of damage done to the organ that a 60-year-old alcoholic has?)

    Amanda Laird, Food Blogger and Communicator

    Ryan Anderson, Web strategist and PR Blogger from Fat Canary

Anna talked about the health aspects of home cooking; Ryan was sharing his adventures in making everything from scratch, including butter, in The Home Cooking Challenge; and Amanda was discussing the intricacies of ingredient substitution and other fun cooking adventures on her blog.

The increasing time squeeze, longer work hours, or more entertainment options of modern life has left less and less time and mental space available for cooking meals at home. The advent of the microwave and TV dinners has even led to a redefining of "cooking" to include actual preparation of ingredients versus plopping something out of a package and zapping it.

Not only is home cooking a much cheaper and healthier alternative to take-out, it also need not consume a lot of time to prepare. Simple examples include roasting a chicken, or just plugging in a rice cooker or slow cooker.

Stacey asked a question that was plaguing her: Does any one group (group meaning vegans, vegetarians, meat-lovers, etc.) cook at home more than the others? The always-lovely Alexa Clark noted that she knows some vegans who spend a lot of time in the kitchen and don't enjoy it at all. Some thought meat eaters cooked more at home. It was really tough to say. It also got us thinking about other groups (in the sense of ethnicity), and whether certain ethnic groups make a point of cooking meals at home more than others.

All-in-all it was a very cool event with great conversation and excellent food and wine. A perfect end to a Monday night!

Additional links:

Chicken Feeds - the Chicken Farmers of Canada Blog -

The CFC Video Podcast -


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