Spending $$$ on Cooking Less, Fear of Sushi and Plastic

Categories: Talking Points
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Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. How often do you use your KitchenAid? In the Atlantic, Megan McArdle attempts to resolve a conundrum: Why are businesses like Sur La Table thriving and high-end appliances appearing in middle-class kitchens, even though Americans are spendinga fraction of the same time cooking that they used to do? As McArdle writes, "in the 1920s, the average woman spent about 30 hours a week preparing food and cleaning up. ... Now, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, women average just 5.5 hours -- and those who are employed, like me, spend less than 4.4 hours a week."

A companion piece of sorts is Molly O'Neill's 2002 New Yorker article about Viking ranges, when she first made the connection between high-priced cookware and low-frequency cooks. The conclusion both come to? Cooking has become a sport, not a chore. And we Americans get awfully competitive about our sporting activities.

2. Safety first. If there's one thing that Americans are more devoted to than our leisure activities, it's our commitment to eradicating any chance whatsoever of possible contamination by anything that might cause the slightest possible harm. At 7x7, Jess Hemerly talks to experts about the risk of radiation exposure from eating Japanese fish (the answer: negligible). And the Chron has an article about how to reduce your exposure to BPA.

3. Chicken primer. Serious Eats' Kenji Lopez-Alt breaks it down for you in 1.5 minutes: How to turn a whole chicken into parts. The secret to the ease with which he slices up his chicken? Razor-sharp knives -- not unlike the ones McArdle says she doesn't use as often as she should. If you want to enter the world championship of chicken-butchering, you can study Martin Yan doing the same thing in 18 seconds.

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