Huffington Post now has Food section; Ruhlman on packaged food

Ah, Huffington Post. I read it, but her entire business model is based on not paying for content, but “exposure”.  Okay, then. Still, they now have a pretty decent Food section, which I’m sure I’ll read somewhat religiously. There’s an article in there today by one of my favorite food folks, Michael Ruhlman, which talks about how he got started cooking.  He touches on two things:

1) Many of us start out cooking with processed stuff.

2) The key is to eventually move past it as our tastes change.

Now, I remember being an 11-year-old and thinking sausage in fried rice was the most AWESOME thing I could cook (with a packet of fried rice seasoning).  Though most of the stuff my grandma made was from scratch, when we requested tacos, the sauce was almost always out of a packet.  I’ve, ah, grown past that, with the help of the Frugal Gourmet and early Food Network as a kid, and now my extensive reading about, experimenting with, tasting and enjoying of food– all kinds of food.

For me, it’s more the ingredients that are important (avoiding a lot of fillers, high fructose corn syrup, weird crap I can’t even begin to pronounce) than making every meal I cook at home perfectly “gourmet”.  There’s a ton of pressure now, with food (and the appreciation of, and photography of food) being so popular right now for many to use only the best ingredients (you’re not using Balsamico di Modena?! How could you!?  What, your olives aren’t cured in the briny waters of the Mediterranean? You just aren’t eating!!).   I can be guilty of that too.  There’s a certain group of foodies who completely knock folks like Rachel Ray (who actually tends to avoid things like packets of sauces) and Sandra Lee (who uses them constantly) and don’t really realize that these shows could be considered “gateways” to better cooking.

Now, I am no fan of Sandra Lee’s cooking (though she seemed very nice in person), but I see Ruhlman’s point.  Rachel Ray, in my opinion, though often annoying, does show folks how you can use fresh ingredients and some packaged ingredients (things like tomato sauce, for example) and come up with a meal relatively quickly (though rarely in 30 minutes).  But what is wrong with someone watching these shows and getting interested in how to prepare food– and then learn more?  I think of how much I’ve learned in the past few years as I’ve blogged, and how much my cooking and eating has improved– we are not born foodies, but perhaps, we grow into being interested in food?

The best quote from the entire article:  “Even Thomas Keller wasn’t always Thomas Keller. He was once the cook who made “spinach” fettuccine using green food coloring.”  See?

Sometimes you just don’t know what’s good until you’ve tried it, so let people try on their own time, and maybe they’ll move from packets to experimentation, to kitchen (or dining) success?