22 November 2011

The biggest problem with cooking shows on television is anxiety, sheer unrelenting anxiety. And I’m not talking about the fermenting tribulations of participants in culinary-competitive mash-ups either. Specifically I’m thinking about you, the viewers.

The explosion of food TV has been a timely wake-up call for many hibernating Australian cooks. The long winter of meat and three veg being passed, these reluctant panhandlers now rumble forth from their caves and bearishly concoct prawn risotto and raspberry soufflé, salmon roulade and chocolate macaroons. Oh and by the way, it’s ‘macaroon’ not ‘macaron’ – ‘macaron’ is either an example of poor spelling or cheeky misdirection, possibly both.

But there have been three notable downsides to this cultural evolution: increases in cost, increases in time commitments, and a heightened expectation of the quality of outcomes. Where once we used to eat dinner, now we consume and review. This has made the life of many home cooks far less comfortable.

Can you imagine in your own childhood turning to your mother and offering a critique on the manner in which dinner had been ‘plated up’? Wooden spoon time indeed! And yet today’s gastro-sensitive minions are begin educated in the fine art of critical deconstruction.

To what end? Qui bono?

And so I sense a time is coming when the simple home meal will be celebrated once more, praised as an act of daily survival – traffic and the workplace being defeated, dinner has managed to even be prepared.

A simple steak, some simple sauce and an even simpler salad. These are the makings of the great Australian family meal, not the complicated effusions of a contrived kitchen game show.

After all, cooking is all about shared experiences, shared time and shared affection. It’s hard to have any of these when you’re too tired and stressed to appreciate them.
T-bone steak with parsley crust and spicy beetroot salad

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