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Alexandra Lange

Cooked


Sometime when I am feeling evil, I think the blog I really should start would be called And that’s why America is fat. This blog would feature clips, screenshots and scans of all of the new food products that add fat to fat, carb to carb and cream to cream in order to create an all-day calorie bomb. I am not blaming the consumer but the industry and I currently offer this commentary only to my husband, holding up ad pages in a magazine, taking the commercials off mute, or merely shaking my head at some overstuffed item. He can fill in the blank.

The latest post would feature the McDonald’s McCafe Mocha, which takes a perfectly innocent cup of coffee and adds whole milk, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a “drizzle” of chocolate. I saw an ad for these on TV and was aghast; my son saw a billboard on the Bruckner and said “ice cream?” It’s dessert masquerading as a beverage.

Greatest hits of the past would be Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust Pizza, The Olive Garden’s Chicken Alfredo, and Lunchables, the pre-packaged, bite-size, all-snacks “lunch” made by Kraft. Also Uncrustables, the pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made by Smuckers. It was a mention of this last outrage (what must the texture of the peanut butter, not to mention the bread, be like?), mentioned in Michael Pollan’s New York Times Magazine cover story this week, that triggered my memory of all the other time-saving and tasteless treats. Pollan’s point (after a bit too much cooking show chatter) is that Americans have fallen so far that making your own PB&J now counts as cooking, and we would all be a lot healthier if we picked that peanut butter paddle back up, and moved on from there.

His other interesting point is about cooking as a spectator sport. We watch cooking shows not to learn to do it ourselves, but because making things has become rare enough that it is fun to watch. A valid point, and one I wish he had extended to the only other reality show on TV that celebrates craft and handwork, Project Runway. I am obsessed, and can’t wait for the season premiere August 20. Pollan says American feminists jettisoned cooking too soon, as it was liberating for the likes of Julia Child. The same could be said for sewing, as now we pay far too much to boutique owners (and probably far too little to the embroiderers) for any little dress that’s different. Same thing goes for that delectable restaurant entree.



Posted in: Food, Health + Safety

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Alexandra Lange Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.

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