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Old 01-08-2012, 08:08 AM   #1
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Talking Do you think the meals we cook today are different to years ago?

Hello everyone! Yesterday there was a big gathering of family in my granny's house to celebrate one of my cousins graduation.

My granny cooked up a feast and I was surprised and actually a little apprehensive that she had cooked tongue!! I had never tried it before! It was actually really nice but it made me wonder how much have the meals we all cook today changed over the years?

Do you think there has been a certain type of cooking, perhaps more health conscious in the last few years?

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Old 01-08-2012, 08:17 AM   #2
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My paternal grandmother was dismayed that people made cakes from a mix. She wasn't a good cook--but she did make a mean Angel food cake from scratch.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:32 AM   #3
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Yes. Depending on what you mean by 'the last few years'. Food preferences change constantly. More convenience foods, more diet foods, more organic and 'free range' foods.

Not to mention all the changes to the basic foods we eat. Pork is leaner, milk is homogenized, tomatoes are bred for durability rather than flavor.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:37 AM   #4
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How many years past? Well, it hasn't been that long that groceries carried the variety they do today. Prior to the 1980's, you wouldn't find many "ethnic" items, unless you actually lived and shopped where that ethnicity was common. I think the results of any comparison between now and a a few decades earlier goes both ways. I remember well when "TV dinners" became common as the only heat and serve home meal, other than individual dishes like canned stew or hash. Certainly, there were no frozen family. meals, nor any bags of frozen chicken breast and the like. Fish sticks was about it. And you could buy canned tomato paste, sauce, or whole, unflavored. No paste with basil, diced, diced with peppers, sauce with Italian herbs, etc. No exotic salad dressings. Maybe no salad dressings at all. Bread was white loaf.

The point is that people cooked what they knew how to concoct from ingredients. A recipe could not say to add a can of so-and-so that already had the flavors in it. And cookbooks, while popular, tended to all be very "white bread." Ethnic and specialized cookbooks were uncommon. So meals tended to be generic "American" or could be the ethnic meals mama learned from grandma. In Texas, especially the west, and I'm sure in other cattle country, the generation was still around to whom breakfast, lunch, and dinner featured beefsteak, salad was ridiculous, and toast was for babies and the ill. And while not strictly food, coffee came from percolators or not at all. Drip-O-Lators were to be had, but weren't common most places.

Remember that when Julia Child first published, it wasn't just a matter of teaching proper French cooking. It was a matter of introducing American wives (pretty much only wives cooked, except over charcoal) that there was more than steak and potatoes and tuna sandwiches. Cooking would not be recognized as a "hobby" or something you studied and continually worked to expend horizons. Some people did, obviously, but not many. So, in those years, people cooked more but more conservatively. The norm was that the family sat down at every meal at the dining table to a full mean prepared by the mother, often according to an established schedule of which meal would appear which night. The TV dinner has a lot to answer for. The TV dinner spawned the TV tray table and spelled the end of table dinner. More mothers began working outside the home and were tired at the end of the day.

Today really represents both an arising of much better cooking by much better and more versatile home cooks. And they have it very good, in terms of ingredients and equipment being available. But it also find many more people who never cook or who never do more than open a bag of frozen meat balls and pasta and stick it in the microwave.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:00 AM   #5
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I think it depends on your community. All my grandparents (great grandparents, great-great grandparents, aunts, etc) lived in Queens in the same few blocks so they all ate the same food. But when you start marrying out of the community I think the food changes. Like my mother tells me my great grandmother still made all the old food (cholent, kasha varnishkes, brisket, chopped liver, knishes, matzoh ball soup, fried fish in the morning, appetizing on sundays, etc). I don't really remember it that much because she was old and stopped cooking much when I was a kid. But like my father moved out to long island as a kid and started eating all the goyesha/Italian food (mayonnaise, white bread, lasagna,) and now my husband didn't even grow up in this country and the thought of appetizing makes him want to vomit and he says no kishka in the cholent because his family doesn't make it that way (the best part!). So I think by the time my daughter learns to cook from me she will have lost the taste for all the "old food" because it has been watered down so much by preferences from my husband, and my parents (who taught me). But thats just my take on it.

P.S. I make tongue all the time! so yummy and I am still in my 20's. My grandmother's never made it b/c it was available at the deli all the time but not anymore...
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:46 PM   #6
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Meals today are vastly different than they were even 10 or 20 years ago.

Just think about the variety of fruits and vegetables we have available today. Just to name one example, growing up, I had only seen artichokes in photos. The first time I was ever able to buy one in my area was somewhere around the early 90's. Now they are commonplace and you would be hard pressed to find a produce section that doesn't have artichokes.

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...more organic and 'free range' foods.
It's funny that we often think of this as something new. I tend to think of the organic and free range movements as getting back to a simpler time. After all, almost all food 100 years ago would've been free range and/or organic. Industrial agriculture and the "green revolution" is a relatively recent development.
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
Meals today are vastly different than they were even 10 or 20 years ago.

Just think about the variety of fruits and vegetables we have available today. Just to name one example, growing up, I had only seen artichokes in photos. The first time I was ever able to buy one in my area was somewhere around the early 90's. Now they are commonplace and you would be hard pressed to find a produce section that doesn't have artichokes.


It's funny that we often think of this as something new. I tend to think of the organic and free range movements as getting back to a simpler time. After all, almost all food 100 years ago would've been free range and/or organic. Industrial agriculture and the "green revolution" is a relatively recent development.
Growing up in Northern MN, I only saw artichokes in a jar--my parents would go to CA and bring them back...and the FRESH eggs from my chickens are free range...my maternal grandmother had chickens, but we didn't!
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:06 PM   #8
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For me "modern recipes" seem to fall into two categories, gourmet/heavily ethnic with lots of ingredients, or "component" recipes that are just combining of pre-made components.

I don't like component recipes because I'm not a fan of processed foods, but I also don't like spending a fortune on gourmet recipes. I like to take component recipes and try making them from scratch.

My grandmother's food was amazingly simple and resourceful, born of much leaner times. I wish that I had been old enough to learn her cooking style while she was still doing it, but by the time I was old enough to cook, she really couldn't cook large meals anymore.
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:44 PM   #9
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"Component Recipes," I like that. It was how I learned to cook growing up. Once I learned how to deconstruct and reconstruct my own recipes I was able to branch out and change component recipes to full recipes. A lot of my cooking starts with creating a roux to make something that would come out of a can, i.e. mushroom soup.
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:20 PM   #10
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I've got a component loaf of bread in the oven right now...
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