Anyone who has set foot into a supermarket in the past couple of years has to be aware of the tremendous demand for pre-cooked meals. Freezer cases bulge with boxes of frozen cooked ravioli, fried chicken and miserable looking diet food entrees. In the deli area -now more typically referred to as "The Market" or perhaps "Gourmet Bistro Cafe Blah Blah Blah" -whole glassy looking chickens in plastic boxes jockey for attention beside platters of of lasagna, goopy bowls of vegetable salads and morbid mounds of gray humus.
Having to look at this stuff alone should be punishment enough for someone like myself. But then when I consider how many people must be buying this stuff and the money that's flooding into the home-meal-replacement market overall -I get really depressed.
I see the world with the eyes of a cook and can think of nothing better, or finer, than cooking. Not cooking is not something I want to think about. Not cooking means being too old or sick to care enough to bother. It's a depressing thought for sure.
Recently I've noticed a new wrinkle in the fabric of the home-meal-replacement market. And I'm not sure how I feel about it. A bunch of businesses have sprung up that allow someone to come into a bricks and mortar space and put together a bunch of meals from prepped ingredients, package the result and stick them in the home freezer to be withdrawn and cooked at will. I've included a bunch "links to" at the bottom of the post. You don't need to look at them all because even though the menus and graphics might change, they are all pretty much the same.
I visited one of these places a while ago and found the marketing concept pretty interesting. The idea is to create a kind of party ambiance for the clients. Apparently a lot of the people who go to these types of places are presumed to be frustrated by the isolation they experience by cooking at home and yearn for social contact while they cook. Another presumption is that the clients are not entirely comfortable with their cooking skills and want some help, but not too much. So all the food is prepped and laid out a la salad bar, laminated recipe cards tell the client what to do while a staff member mentors them.
One of the weirder things I noticed was that there were no knives. It's obvious that the absence of knives from the prep area is a function of liability concerns. But to me, the idea of preparing food without a knife at hand is like swimming without water. I can imagine it, but why would I want to do it?
Dinner My Way
Now We're Cooking