To Lift This Great Social Incubus of Bad Cooking


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    so what you’re saying here is that unlike everything else in America, cooking is a merritocracy? XDReport

  2. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “Farmer took it from book knowledge to conventional wisdom. She treated it like a skill, and like all skills there was a method to doing it and learning about it, and added value and worth to the life of those who mastered that skill. You do not get employment and opportunities without such skill. ”

    Of course, the woke might see this as turning cooking from an aesthetic handed-down oral-history thing that required a lot of cultural context and carried on the weight of tradition into a measured ratocinated codified one-right-way-and-all-other-ways-are-wrong teachable skill that wasn’t special anymore. Turning it from a non-white thing to a white-people thing.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    By American standards of the time, bad cooking meant tasty ethnic food that people like today. Anglo-Protestants passionately believed in bland cuisine, which is why we had the mid-20th century.Report

    • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

      British roots. Old saying: The brits sailed the entire world in search of spices and decided there were none that they liked.Report

  4. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    I have nothing to add, apart from complimenting you for this fine piece of cultural history. I had not known about this previously.Report

  5. Avatar Fish says:

    “Recipes in 19th-century cookbooks relied on measurements like a “handful” of rice or a “goodly amount” of molasses…”

    This is why nobody in my wife’s family can completely and accurately replicate her grandmother’s biscuits–she didn’t follow a recipe, she just knew how to make them. Her aunt comes the closest–and her biscuits are damn good–but they aren’t quite grandmothers. I also finally caught an episode of the new “Good Eats” and Alton Brown is excellent, as ever. Good post!Report

  6. Hey, great piece! Love it!Report

  7. Avatar Anne says:

    Great post Andrew! My mom, bless her soul, is not the greatest cook, she isn’t bad just…. Her bible was the Betty Crocker Cookbook which of course I started out with. Where I really learned to cook was from a foodie ex-boyfriend he never measured anything (unless baking) and pretty much revolutionized how I cook and approach food.Report

    • thank you Anne. My mother had the old school checkerboard patterned Betty Crocker book as well, knowing her probably still does somewhere.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      My mom was a top notch cook, but also a hospital dietitian. I was a test subject for recipes to see if they were bland enough for hospital food. Yes, she could deflavorize anything.Report