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Rolly


Apr 19, 2006, 10:06 AM

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Doņa Martha gets lots of e-mails

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Two things about e-mails to Doņa Martha amaze me. First is the number of them*, and second is the number from Latinas living in the USA who say they never learned to cook from their mothers or grandmothers and how Martha's cooking stories have enabled them to make their husbands happy at the table.

This leads me to wonder how common is it for the younger generation not to learn how to cook?

*This morning the e-mail count from my website stands at 1,210. I would judge about half are addressed to Martha. And probably a quarter of those are in Spanish.

Rolly Pirate



sfmacaws


Apr 19, 2006, 11:01 AM

Post #2 of 6 (1637 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Doņa Martha gets lots of e-mails

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That's pretty cool Rolly. Do you read them to her? Is she interested? Does she ever reply? I'm wondering what she thinks about the lack of cooking info from young latinas. I'm also wondering what her reaction is to being a bit of a web star? I see a column here, Cooking with Doņa Martha, that runs in southwestern US papers and gives all the advice that Mami and Abuelita didn't or couldn't supply.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Rolly


Apr 19, 2006, 11:36 AM

Post #3 of 6 (1633 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Doņa Martha gets lots of e-mails

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"Do you read them to her?" The ones in English I skip. The Spanish ones I print for her.

"Is she interested?" Not very. "Does she ever reply?" No, but I do sometimes.

"I'm wondering what she thinks about the lack of cooking info from young latinas." I don't know. She is very non-judgmental.

"I'm also wondering what her reaction is to being a bit of a web star?" I wonder the same thing. She's pretty inscrutable on the subject. I'm not sure she thinks it is real -- just some crazy gringo thing.

Rolly Pirate


Gayla

Apr 20, 2006, 9:38 AM

Post #4 of 6 (1590 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Doņa Martha gets lots of e-mails

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Rolly -- YES!! it is very common for the younger generations to not know how to cook. It's a situation that is being widely lamented NOB; first within the food industry, but now by the general media. There was an article last month in the Sunday edition of the San Diego Union Tribune that focused on the general lack of cooking skills and the consequences. I probably should mention that the article was on the front page.

The degeneration of cooking skills and knowledge began, like so many things, with the social and cultural changes of the 60s. We could put a man on the moon, perfect the microwave and enjoy unprecedented sexual freedom; learning to cook was not a particularly sought after skill in that era. Life in general sped up, the pace got faster, time got shorter and cooking was perceived as a bother. The food companies responded by getting all kinds of time saving foods and devices onto the market to make the onerous task less invasive. By the mid-70s many school districts were dropping their Home Ec classes, partly due to lack of interest and enrollment and partly because it could save them lots of money if they no longer had to offer cooking, sewing and "home management", whatever the heck that was. As more and more women began working outside the home and more and more folks ended up as single parents, time became even shorter and getting meals on a table harder and harder. And think about it, being a chef and going to chef school in the 60s, 70s and even 80s wasn't and especially prestigious as a career path.

But interestingly enough, back in the mid-70s the seeds of change were being planted. A whole cadre of young chefs (many coming out of the hippie 60s) were beginning to pay attention to food, but not in the same way their parents did. You people like Alice Waters applying what she learned about food from her year in France, or Rick Bayless applying what he'd learned about Mexican food from living in Mexico for 5 years, or Robert Del Grande applying what he learned as a PhD. student in bio-chemistry, to food. They took what they learned, applied it, nurtured their dreams and, ultimately, garnered success and respect for what they did. Also in the mid-70s American's began traveling more and being exposed to an increasingly wide variety of cuisines and food.

Historically, Americans haven't viewed food in the same way as other cultures. But that began to change by the mid-90s when "food" and "cooking" exploded and things took a giant leap forward. Food became trendy, chefs became idols and expendable income fueled a monsterous growth in almost all segements of the commerical food industry. But it was focused more on the eating out part than the eating in part because, well, people didn't know how to cook and it was easier to make reservations. Basic skills cooking classes are some of the most popular classes at most cooking schools these days. Pull any cookbook (such as the original Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocer or Better Homes & Gardnes)) published before the mid-70s and read the recipes. Then compare a later edition of the same cookbook and see how the recipes have changed. What you'll find is that the recipes have been dumbed down to accommodate not only the lack of skill but the lack of understanding of the jargon or language of cooking. Recipe methods now have to be reduced to the most basic common denominator because not one, but two generation of Americans don't know what it means to simmer, braise, stew, roast or bake.

Home Ec is making a come back, culinary schools are filled to the brim with young adults (and some mid-life career changers) paying $40,000 or more for a culinary degree, women are no longer viewing kitchen skills as the yoke of oppression. Much like obesity, the lack of cooking skils is beginning to get some play in the press and, therefore, the conscious mind of the general American public. The pendulum swang to far to the extreme I think we're now seeing it begin to swing back to a more moderate attitude. There is growing dissatisfaction with the abundance and quality of convenience foods and even though time is still in short supply NOB, more value is being placed on food and cooking, which means more people are willing to find ways to incorporate it into their lives.


TlxcalaClaudia

Apr 20, 2006, 10:06 PM

Post #5 of 6 (1558 views)

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Re: [Gayla] Doņa Martha gets lots of e-mails

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along with the loss of home cooking skills is the loss of sit-down-as-a family dinner time. Not so in the Mexican family of mine, but countless times I see adults and teens on my American side standing by the kitchen sink gulfing down food....processed out of a box. THis is so they can get a bit of nourishment in between all the social running around that needs to be done. The other day my mom made a delicious roast with thyme. The thyme was an "unusual" herb for the company eating it. They didn't touch it. Loss of cooking skills begets a loss of palate.

Claudine


johnv

Apr 21, 2006, 5:00 PM

Post #6 of 6 (1532 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Doņa Martha gets lots of e-mails

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I can beleive that there are many "Latinas" who don't know anything about cooking. Here in Guanajuato Capital I have come across young female checkers in the supermarket who are unable to identify certain kinds of produce. The examples that really took the cake are the ones who did not know what an avocado or garlic was.
 
 
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