"Though she was born a long, long time ago, your mother should know…"

by Katie Pizzuto on February 22, 2010

in Cooking,Prepackaged Food

I’m going to go ahead and capitulate to the fact that certain pre-packaged foodstuffs have proven beneficial—hell, even advantageous—for the average consumer. Multi-sized containers of enumerable ice cream flavors that save me the trouble of having to make my own on a regular basis? Sweet. Dry, boxed pasta for when I don’t have the time to make my own on a random Tuesday night, after I realize I forgot to defrost chicken? Boo-yah. And they sure as shit aren’t exaggerating when they compare every “next best thing” to sliced bread…that’s a hard shoe to fill if you ask the average, baking-challenged mom. But how sad a shape must Americans be in that they’d rather make stale popcorn in a microwave, when they could just as quickly have made fresh popcorn on their stovetop? How pitiful is this slovenly nation of “I hate my kitchen” citizens that it would sooner pour a can of mushroom soup over chicken breasts and call it dinner, than it would stick a few garlic cloves in a whole chicken and call it (if nothing else) fresh?

Eggs are, as most chefs will tell you, one of the toughest ingredients to pull off well…I get that. The perfectly poached egg is an elusive ideal that we strive toward, failing miserably as we go, burying most of them in the graveyard of “didn’t coagulate quickly enough” or the “would anyone like a coddled egg?” mausoleum. Omelets are to be revered if they have just the right amount of “fluff,” and the difference between “over easy” and simply “fried” is as broad a gap as the Grand Canyon. There’s even an art to mastering both a hardboiled and softboiled egg, which you can readily find more blog posts on than you can on Anthony Bourdain insulting someone at the Food Network. Again, I get it…trust me.

What I don’t get is pre-packaged, peeled, ready-to-eat hardboiled eggs…available, I shit you not, in “Original,” “Cage Free” and “Certified Organic” 2-packs. Eggology, in all its culinary heresy, has seemingly convinced the public that hard-boiling an egg is way much more trouble than it’s worth, and they’ve taken it one step further by including packets of salt and pepper in each box…to make your complicated life that much easier. Suggested retail price? About $1.00 for “original”. Wait, let me clarify: FOR TWO FUCKING EGGS. Average price of one dozen large eggs? About $1.75. Question is, would consumers pay well over 3 times the cost of an egg just to avoid having to throw it into some hot water for a while…perish the thought? I leave that one to you.

At what point do you stop sacrificing for mere convenience? At what point do our kids begin to think that everything they eat, by default, comes from a box, a can, a jar or a bag because no one can be bothered to hard-boil them a damned egg? I often listen to my parents wax nostalgic over how things used to be, back in the day, and I’m rightfully concerned that I’ll be sitting on my front porch one day, sipping on a dry, dirty martini while my grandchildren encircle my rocking chair, and I’ll be bitching about how things “used to be” and how I used to use these things called “stoves” and “ovens” once upon a time. And they will, no doubt, glance up at me with a complete lack of understanding, wondering just how rough a life I must have led. So I keep that horrid future at bay by actually…you know…cooking for my kid, and keeping him interested in the process of culinary alchemy, hoping that when I’m old enough to be sitting on that rocking chair, one of my grandchildren will have both the knowledge and the wherewithal to make me a second martini rather than buy me a pre-bottled one.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ConstanceC February 22, 2010

reasons such as these are, quite possibly, a huge reason why American is growing in size every day…

some of my personal favorite ridiculous prepackaged foods are the sandwiches that come out of vending machines… it always amazes me when I see people purchase them.

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2 Joe February 22, 2010

If they don’t want to boil the eggs, why can’t folks just go old skool and have the nasty jar of pickled eggs in the kitchen?

I’m also wondering when are meals come in pill form…a full meal in a tiny pill. Fortunately, I think farm-to-table, whole animal utilization, and events like “Primal” are bringing groups of folks back “real cooking”. Backlash can be a good thing sometimes.

Oh, and homemade popcorn in an iron skillet with olive oil, sea salt, and some fresh grated parm reg…awesome!

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3 Linsey February 22, 2010

adds to that;the raw eggs in a bottle ready beaten, already grated cheese and British pancake mix that says just add egg and water (that’s just flour then I have bought at great expense!!!!)

great blog post Katie

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4 Don February 22, 2010

OK, I will play devil’s advocate here, because too many people are agreeing with you Katie.

I remember when I was 12 years old my Mom went into the hospital for major surgery (womens things). She was in the Hospital back then for 10 days, and recuperated at home for another 2 weeks or so. In that dark time my Dad had to cook for us! This is a man who when i said I wanted spaghetti, boiled noodles (undercooked of course) ant then took a can of Hunts Tomato sauce, added another can of water to a pot and simmered it on the stove. That was my dinner. Under cooked noodles and red water!

Carl Jrs (hardees back east) is right without them some guys would starve! What I would have given for a prepackaged hard boiled egg the summer of 1972! OK, so when the best meal you had during that 3 weeks was the Hungry Man Dinner in the tin tray, yes I think these things would have been great. A microwave would have been a Godsend!

Now I am a little bit of a hypocrite because we do cook at my house. We have family dinners just about every night (which to my shock is no longer the norm)! But these convenience things are simply that convenient. So don’t be so quick to judge the next time you open a bag of sliced and peeled apple wedges, there might just be some poor kid who has to have his Dad cook for him that night!

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5 Katie Pizzuto February 22, 2010

Agree Joe….I even to a “garlic bread” version of popcorn sometimes 🙂

@Don…While I sympathize, I’d rather see a dad in that situation put together a turkey sandwich for their kid, or even peanut butter & jelly. Either one with a carrot or celery or whatever….no dad can screw that up…there’s not even cooking involved!

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6 Coupe 60 February 22, 2010

FWIW, the BBQ is the Dad’s way (even the most cooking disinclined) to cook for the family… a great many things can be grilled…

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7 Katie Pizzuto February 22, 2010

True enough, Lou (though I tend to take ownership of the grill most times, my husband would no doubt be able to grill up hamburgers, dogs, chicken and pork…a steak he might kill, though 🙂

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8 Coupe 60 February 22, 2010

Heck, I’d even throw in corn, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and other items as well…

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9 Don February 22, 2010

Katie: Clearly you don’t understand. My Dad doesn’t even know how to cut a Tomato! NO LIE that just happened last week! My sister found it out when she went back for my Mom’s latest major surgery!

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10 Katie Pizzuto February 22, 2010

So let me get this right, Don…he couldn’t put pre-sliced cold cuts between pre-sliced bread? Don’t me wrong, i am dying to hear the tomato story, but a sandwich involves no tools unless you want mayo. BTW, best thoughts heading out to your mom, dude.

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11 Don February 23, 2010

Thanks, She had a Shoulder Replacement Surgery. Pretty gutsy move for a 71 year old! And yes My dad can make a sandwich. He just doesn’t. I think he has become addled and a little spoiled by my Mom over the years. (They are a very old 71!) So clearly Mom can’t cook while she is recuperating. Dad has to step up and do more. You wouldn’t believe how brilliant he is, and yet how helpless in everyday household life. He is like an idiot savant in a lot of ways. I’m just sayin for kids that have to have a man like that in charge of cooking, and for people like my Dad these pre-packaged ready to eat things are very handy. I think if Dad tried to boil an egg he would burn down the house!

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12 Thom Calabrese February 23, 2010

Cooked eggs in a box???? That’s just wrong on so many levels.
I love to cook, but when I’m stressed for time PB&J is the best! On whole wheat bread of course.

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13 Katie Pizzuto February 23, 2010

@Thom….great to see you here, old friend! Where have you been?! I totally agree on the PB&J…for Dads that can’t cook (or slice a tomato), I’d rather see them give their kids a healthy sandwich than pre-packed foodstuffs.

Funny, I often think men play off very convenient ignorance when they want to. It’s amazing how far, “oh, honey, you do this so much better than me” will get you when you simply don’t want to be bothered with the task 🙂

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14 Mark February 24, 2010

I’m gonna see if I can get financial aid to become a certified factory egg boiler:-)

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15 Do Bianchi February 24, 2010

lift up your heart and sing me a song…

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16 Michele March 15, 2010

Much of the problem stems from the fact that people have no idea how to cook real food. They have lived a lifetime eating out of boxes, bags and cans. Ignorance is bliss.

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