It seems that cooking, along with letter-writing, sewing, and being courteous, is becoming a lost art. And really, who needs to be able to cook these days? Preprepared, heat-and-eat "gourmet" foods, recently the domain of elite gourmet markets, are popping up at plain old grocery stores. Convenience foods are becoming ever more convenient -- precooked, cut-up chicken for prewashed, premixed salads, individually wrapped weenies, skillet-meal kits.
We once knew a girl who would prepare a "grilled" cheese sandwich by putting a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread and microwaving it. She actually made bad ramen noodles. Now, maybe you're not this bad in the kitchen. Maybe you learned how to make your mom's spaghetti; perhaps you throw together a Duncan Hines cake every once in a while. But how much of a gourmet are you? Take our little quiz to find out.
"Tahini" can be found:
a.) in the South Seas; it's an island
b.) on the calendar; it's an Islamic holiday
c.) in Middle Eastern restaurants; it's a thick paste made of ground sesame seed
When you hear the words "demi-glace," you think of:
a.) that time she and her naked, pregnant belly were on the cover of US
b.) a sexy bra
c.) a glaze made of beef stock and sherry, reduced until thick
"Baba ghanoush" is:
a.) a charismatic cult leader
b.) that song by The Who
c.) a puree of eggplant used as a dip or spread
How did you do? (Suffice it to say you should be thinking food.) If the harsh reality of your culinary ignorance has just hit you like a tarte tatin in the face, maybe you should check out the Hands-On Series of classes at Sur La Table. Most of classes are geared toward beginners, says Anne Legg, the store's cooking-class coordinator. "We want to attract people who are interested in cooking but don't have confidence without someone helping them," she says. Students are guaranteed attention from the instructor and three assistants, because classes are limited to 12.
So why should you cook? Because it's fun. Because it gives you a sense of accomplishment to create something that others can enjoy. Because women like men who can cook, and vice versa. And because skillet meals and salad kits get old after a while.
Larra Ann Keel