Cooking For Dummies

It’s pretty much been determined that The Food Network has been dumbed down to make it more “entertaining” as opposed to educational. Cooking shows never give you the recipe for things anymore, and viewers choose their programming based on pretty hair, big boobs and which TV celebrity chef has the most gadgets for sale.

Apparently this desire to want to cook but not really put the effort into the process has created a whole new (lowered) standard in cookbooks. As today’s cooks are bewildered by basic techniques and standardized cooking terms, recipes get longer and more detailed in an effort to explain the process enough so that the inexperienced home cook can turn out a halfway decent product.

In today’s Toronto Star, Susan Sampson explores the difficulties faced by both cookbook publishers and food writers.

We don’t sauté. We cook, stirring.

We don’t combine. We toss gently. Or stir in. Or whisk.

And we never, ever julienne. We cut in matchstick strips.

It’s our way of speaking very s-l-o-w-l-y and enunciating as home cooking skills continue to slide downhill.

We are not alone. Cookbook editor Rux Martin, for example, also tries to avoid terms readers may not know, like blanch or baste.

The catch? “If you can’t use those terms, how do we educate cooks?” wonders Martin, an executive editor at Houghton Mifflin in Boston.

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