There’s No Time For Frozen
I was totally tricked.
But that’s okay. I actually tried more frozen food in one sitting than I’ve had in my entire life. Learning experience, right?
I got this invite (above ) to a demonstration at a local cooking school. I briefly scanned the details, saw that I could bring a guest, let 80P check his schedule and then I confirmed. I assumed this event was tied to the chef, Trish Magwood‘s book tour. She would cook recipes from her book, the food writers would munch, possibly write about the event, and the cycle of: product—PR—press would continue as normal.
Now, I truly hate when bloggers bitch. Like I super fucking hate it. Food writers are truly blessed with ridiculous perks: free food, trips, wine, cookbooks and inflated egos. I guess that’s the problem in the first place. Maybe I expect too much.
Well this demo was all about Stouffer’s new line of frozen food: Anytime Gourmet. With plenty of wine to quell most complaints, Trish “cooked” a few of the frozen dinners. The gimmick of this new brand is it allows people to kinda cook. The meal isn’t assembled into tiny sections, each ingredient is wrapped in its own plastic bag.
For one of the chicken dishes the consumer must mix together the de-thawed ingredients: bread crumbs, dehydrated mushrooms, and some water to create a crust for the chicken. The eater must bread the chicken, then top it with the packed cheese. While that cooks in the oven (20 something minutes?), the rest of the meal, green beans, quartered red potatoes and a brown gravy, can be nuked. The food wasn’t completely terrible, but it tasted generic.
Now, I’ve maybe had two or three frozen meals in my life. And this was even before I became obsessed with cooking. I never really understood the attraction. If I’m in a pinch, I’ll scramble a few eggs. I’ll toast a bagel. I’d even rather heat up ramen than turn to the freezer section. But whatever. Clearly Americans find this packaging appealing. And Stouffer’s is preying on busy families and dudes that want to impress their dates. Oh, and this semi-hassle free meal goes for 15 bucks for 2 servings.
I have no idea what it’s like to be a working parent, trying to figure how to find time for a personal life when the current workplace in no way reflects the current workforce. But is high fructose corn syrup the answer? Isn’t eating together as a family still a valued moment (everyone microwaving her own meals doesn’t count)? Should cooking be portrayed as a chore?
We’ve recently debated these issues on ES (here and here). And, well, I just feel like a pretentious little city girl. I’m 28 with no dependents (80 can technically pour himself cereal, so I’ll leave him out of the equation). I can spend 3 hours cooking and leave the clean up for the next day. I don’t need to make time for homework, baths, soccer practice or whatever kids do these days. (Did you know that kids send like 100 texts a day – crazy!)
Earlier this week I finished reading In Defense of Food. I’m clearly on my Michael Pollan soapbox. Pollan completely brainwashed me. I am spreading the *we need an American food culture* gospel. And I’m afraid, Stouffer’s and Trish (who should know better as a Beard award winner!), that frozen food is not the answer.
Go fry an egg. It’s good for you.