Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Homemade, reconsidered

Though some might brand me cynical, unpatriotic, hard hearted, and an all-round party pooper, let me just come out and say it: I don't believe in Homemade, and for that matter I'm pretty skeptical about homemade too.

I don' t recall when exactly it began, as it crept up insidiously, but there are so many things described as homemade - things you can buy in restaurants, stores, even supermarkets, places that clearly are not homes - that being Homemade doesn't mean much anymore. It just means it was at least partly completed on the premises. It could have arrived frozen and ready to thaw or bake and it can be called Homemade.

So having gotten that off my chest, what, you ask, is my problem with real homemade? Something truly made from scratch in a home?

It's just that most homemade isn't really very good. The whole progress of civilization, modernity, urbanity has been taking us to the point where people specialize in doing things, and learn to do them well. So the baker bakes. The butcher, butchers. The p√Ętissier makes p√Ętissierie. You go to the chocolate shop for chocolate, and don't really need to mess with tempering chocolate at home. And if you want a glass of wine or beer, really, don't bother to make your own, because someone out there has figured out how to do it better.

Two qualifications here. First, I am lucky enough to live in New York, so you really can get people who have all of the above skills and more. But you can in many other cities as well. If you live in one of those cities where you can't get these services, then I admire you for trying at home. Second, some people, a few, a very few, are really good at some of these things. I imagine that the baker goes home and with fresh rolls for his family (I would like to imagine... in reality, I'm sure he/she goes home dead tired of the smell of fresh bread.) So again if you're one of these, then congrats (and invite me home soon!)

(And a quick aside on bread machines. I was given a secondhand one as a gift. The bread is not bad, but I'm not really a bread person and I only use it when someone wants to have some exotic variety not locally available...

And a surprisingly different view of ice cream machines. I actually have had a few good homemade ice creams. I wouldn't mind one of those machines that has its own freezer, as a long as it comes with an apartment large enough to contain the noise of the compressor.)

So there it is. I really don't believe in homemade.

* * *

Which is what makes the next confession difficult. I made (ok - I watched / helped as a friend made) mayonnaise. I was skeptical; even though the store-bought varieties are insipid, who really wants some creamy goop inside a perfectly good sandwich? Another issue is that I am allergic to one of the common ingredients (prepared mustard), so the idea was by making at it home I could be sure it was safe. I had to be dragged to the kitchen. I complained. I pouted. (And you know, it's not that I don't like to cook -- I was just convinced this was an exercise in futility.)

And now... I am addicted to the stuff. Homemade mayonnaise is spiritual. Indeed, using it I made a sandwich with my own hands that I would rate as one of the 5 best sandwiches I have ever eaten...

* * *

So if there is anything I can say to redeem myself at the end of this post, it is this: Yes, sometimes (often) I arrive at situations with strong prior views and opinions. Sometimes I need to be convinced to give things a try. But I'm always open to trying and unashamed to change my mind.

And now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go and make a sandwich...


1 comment:

If Jane said...

hahaha! brilliant!
i 10000000% fall into the group of: "why would i make it when someone else makes it so much better"! ;))
although i did make butter..once.

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