Monday, February 15, 2010

A Great MEal Begins with ME

The beauty of this blog is that I can express my opinions freely without anyone yelling back in disagreement. Thank God I finally have a soapbox from which to vent my frustrations because quite frankly, I'm tired of writing imaginary letters to the editor! I'm going to say some things here that others will disagree with and many will think I am crazy or strange. Well, it's funny you think that because most of the time, I do feel like an alien dropped down upon this Earth.

I usually get this feeling when I go to the supermarket.

It doesn't matter which market I go to, the scene is usually the same. I start out in the produce section and feel somewhat normal and connected to the food. However, once I hit the middle of the store, I get this strange feeling like I am in another land. All the packaged food looks, well, strange. Boxed, wrapped, hermetically sealed, They say you should shop the perimeter of the store for the healthiest, most natural food. I agree with this, however, I cannot snub my healthy pastas, canned artichokes, cereals, dried beans, and the like which are packed somewhere in the middle of the store. I think the markets would be 1/3 of their actual size if they eliminated all the junk, processed, and pretend food.

I think if our grandmothers were to roam the aisles today, they too would feel like aliens. I am picturing Grandma Giovannina perusing the aisles only to find something called "Lunchables". "Ayyyeeee, what the hell is this?" I can hear her saying in Italian. Our nonnas made "peasant" food, which by the way, is now becoming the "chic" thing to do. It really cracks me up how there are so many news and cooking shows talking about "Depression" cooking, "Back to Basics", "How to Make Your Own" these are all revolutionary ideas for the 2000s. I know some pretty face is making a lot of money right now broadcasting a recipe segment on Pasta Fagiole or as I call it, Pasta Fazool.

Sad but true, there are many people who just don't cook and have fallen victim to the food industry's over development of preservative-filled, convenience "food". I think the re-introduction of the "Back to Basics" concept is fantastic, as there are many who think it's normal to feed their kids and themselves Hot Pockets, Hamburger Helper, and yes, Lunchables on a daily basis. I think Michelle Obama's "Lets Move" mission to get our kids on a healthier track is long overdue. However, it's the parents who do the shopping so I'm wondering who is going to address that elephant in the room. How do we simultaneously fix a severely broken food industry selling us the most unhealthy bill of goods while weaning this generation off of its fare? I can see the uprising now...."Bring back my Cheese Whiz, Hungry Man, Pop Tarts, and Tuna Helper now!!"

I grew up with a mother who always cooked and had a healthy, homemade meal on the table every night. Don't get me wrong, we did our share of gagging over brussel sprouts and broccoli rabe like most kids would. This is not to say that we didn't enjoy the occasional KFC or Burger Chef meal, but those were exceptions. (And how fun it was eating in the car and feeding fries to the pigeons!). Since eating home-cooked food was normal for me as a kid, it turned out that I too, would become the same type of mom who cooked. (Side note: If I did not have children, I would still be cooking!)

One day we were talking about fast food at work. I mentioned that my kids had never eaten fast food. At the time of this discussion, my oldest was 5 and my baby was 18 months old. Well, one of my coworkers (who I happen to love and you know who you are!) looked at me like I had just sold my baby down the river. I told her that I never eat fast food (with the exception of the traveling emergency or french fries cravings) so I don't feel the need to feed it to my kids. Plus, I just think there isn't much by the way of nutrition in a Happy Meal. Try as you may McDonald's, you haven't fooled this mother! Now, before you think that I am Mommy Dearest and don't let my kids eat treats, let me tell you where the "dessert bucket" lives in our house....

It was on that day, when I elicited this shocking reaction that I was convinced of my alienship. I am just waiting for the mother ship to take me back to my real home where it is normal to cook and be concerned about what your little people are eating.

Maybe I am not so much an alien as I am a throwback to the 1950s. I love homemade food and it takes a lot to make me happy in a restaurant. I just think homemade is better tasting and better for you and obviously cheaper than going out (unless you are a 99 cent menu muncher).

When I hear people say they don't have time to cook, I cringe. I am told that because I am home during the day, I have time to cook. This is true. I am home during the day and work my hours in the evening. However, I know many women who work full time and make excellent use of their Crock Pots. I know another who is a college professor of 2 small boys who makes a month's worth of food and freezes the meals so she won't have to cook every night. The point is that these ladies find a way to make it work. You do have to plan ahead to a degree and you have to make this a priority. Something does have to give somewhere in a household but for me, healthy eating is another one of those "non-negotiables" in life (exercise is the other one).

And did I mention that your significant other can also share in the cooking? You could take turns cooking each night. Do whatever works, as long as it gets done. It is for the general health and well-being for everyone in the house so why not get ANYONE who eats involved in the process? Put the kids and the dog to work!

So, now you know where I am coming from. I am almost ready to start sharing some great home cooked recipes with you. I always say to those who say they cannot cook, "If you can READ you can COOK." It really is that simple.

We have so many available resources to teach us; the internet, cookbooks, The Food Network, and now... Becky's Big Bytes!


Anonymous said...

Right on, Beck. Back to Basics is the name of the game. Great blog.....!!

Ginny said...

I love the way you think!!! AWESOME!!!!

Anonymous said...

Love your Blog. Cann't wait for your receips.

Rebecca Nero said...

Thanks all for your feedback! I just wish I knew who the "anonymous" people were : ). Feel free to "follow" this's pretty simple to do.


Great entry Becky. When we eat out (a.k.a. biz lunches, parties, etc.), I often say we're not going out because of the food. Our favorite meals are the ones that I cook. And, yes my husband does help out in the kitchen and enjoys it. Thank you for giving us "peasant" chefs cred.