Microwave Cooking for One Is the Saddest Book I’ve Ever Seen
I happened to be looking around for more books to add to the library and came across something called Microwave Cooking for One. I always tell you to be aware of what is going on inside; like great surgeons or athletes, evaluating your own reactions and thought processes in a detached, rational way to better understand your subconscious motivations. I was shocked at how powerfully I responded to it. Something about this book – the fact that it even exists and that there is an audience for it – makes me deeply sad, in a very profound and emotional way.
(The fake reviews on Amazon are worth the read, so it triggers at least a second glance among other people, as well.)
It upsets me far more than it should. I feel sad for the author, who invested her time in this project and is clearly very proud of it. I feel sad for the customer who is giving up his or her birthright to good food, settling for this. I’m having a hard time explaining the sort of agony and despondency I feel looking at the cover. It’s just a book. I need to understand the reason. You can read the preface she wrote by clicking on the cover over at Amazon then scrolling down to the digital “Look Inside” content. It makes me feel heartbroken and I can’t quite identify the underlying cause.
Perhaps it’s because, in my life, cooking, and good food are intimately tied to family dinners, friends coming over and sitting at the bar talking about their lives. It’s holidays. It’s birthdays. It’s late nights at home, curled up on the couch and watching a movie with the person you love more than anyone in the world. It’s breakfast when house guests stumble out of bed and ask what we have to eat. It’s a celebration and social event. It’s also a singular undertaking that offers a chance for meditation when you can’t focus.
Perhaps it’s because I echo the sentiment of the master we are studying at the moment when she said, “I believe with my whole heart in the act of cooking, in its smells, in its sounds, in its observable progress on the fire. The microwave separates the cook from cooking, cutting off the emotional and physical pleasure deeply rooted in the act, and not even with its swiftest and neatest performance can the push-button wizardry of the device compensate for such a loss.”
Yes, I understand a microwave is convenient. Yes, even I have one and we use it once or twice a week to reheat a traditionally cooked dish. But as a primary cooking mechanism, adopted on purpose to serve as your main culinary method? Life is too short to rob yourself of the joy of good food. Of exotic spices. Of hanging out with friends as you sauté, reduce, flambé, slice, dice, toss, sprinkle, garnish, mix, whisk, crack, and pour. Of the process.
Convenience is nice. Expediency is good. Rationality is admirable. But there must be a point at which you draw a line and say, “This is art. I do this because it nourishes my soul.” I believe that a very significant percentage of people in the world have the capacity to learn to cook well. Not only is it financially beneficial, drastically lowering per serving costs, it’s emotionally enriching in a way few activities are because I have yet to meet a person who truly hates really delicious food. It’s a universal constant across cultures, generations, political parties, genders, race, and time.