A few years ago, I wrote a column in The Honolulu Advertiser of sainted memory on “the dividing line between civilization and savagery” in hotels. The column annoyed some readers no end. They mistook my humor for hubris. Who was I to lay down the law about what constitutes a perfect hotel room? What kind of a sybaritic maniac enjoys paying $300 a night for a place to sleep?
Ah, well, you can’t please everyone. And I still like soft pillows (two per person), crisp cool bedclothes changed daily, marble bathrooms, room service and hot and cold running valets. But especially I like maid service and the little sign on the door that keeps people out.
Lately, I’ve been contemplating “Signs of the End Times.” Apologies in advance to those who believes that these are, in fact, the End Times and the best we can do is ready for the Rapture. I choose to spend my waiting time not only seeking a better understanding of my maker but also employing a little gentle humor to help me deal with what I see.
I’ve been seeing many Signs in the supermarket.
The other day, for example, I was in the produce section where two rather undisciplined children were weighing everything in sight, stacking the $6 a pound miniature donut peaches on the scales and misnaming them apples. That’s understandable; those peaches are rather rare items (and what the heck were peaches doing in the market in February, anyway?). But when they called the onions potatoes, I had to say something. “They’re onions,” I said. And, holding up a potato, “These are potatoes. See the difference in the shape and the skin?” They ignored me.
That’s beginning to be a familiar experience: being ignored when I talk about cooking. By the time the Lord returns, nine-tenths of the population will have forgotten how to cook. If they ever knew.
Then, in the produce section, I saw a product, Recipe Inspirations, that made me a little sick.
It’s composed of a wee little packets of an herb and spice mixture with a recipe card instructing the consumer in how to make the likes of spice-rubbed pork chops, for which they wanted something like $2.50. Oh, PUUUUUHLEEEZE. If you can’t rub something good-tasting on a a piece of meat and then cook it, well, then, friend, just step away from the stove and no one will get hurt.
I combat the death of cooking as best I can. Next month, for example, chef Carol Nardello and I will be teaching a class at Kapi’iolani Community College in which we look back at the lessons that the forgotten science of home economics has to teach us about how to feed your family well while maintaining a reasonable food budget. I’ll spoon-feed you a little history. Carol will suggest economical, easy recipes. And then we’ll feed you for real — samples.
You can find out more and register for the class series on KCC’s Web site, in the culinary section of the continuing education school (http://continuinged.kcc.hawaii.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1272:culinary-home-economics-re-introduction-to-home-economics&catid=110:leisure&Itemid=73). Come spend a few Saturday mornings with us.