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June 22, 2007

Home cooking

Driving back from a trip to Kansas City the other day, we passed through Des Moines, Iowa, around lunchtime and started looking for a grocery store.

We looked, and looked some more. No grocery stores hove into view. We did see a lot of fast-food places on every commercial corner -- Boston Markets and burger places and mid-level suburban ubiquities like Appleby's and Carrabbas Italian Swill. But no grocery stores. There were single-family homes for blocks in every direction. Did the people who lived there never cook for themselves?

Finally, we stumbled into a neigborhood where a few "european-style" lofts were going up, and lo! A foofy grocery store appeared before us . It was the kind of place that hosts Rick Bayless of Topolobampo fame for a cooking seminar on Mexican food, and charges $120 per person for the privilege of attending. Evidently, enough of these people who live in trendy lofts still cook for themselves to support a local grocery store with an in-house fromageur who will apologize -- appropriately -- for the store's unfortunate inability to stock burrata.

It made me wonder: has home cooking become a fetish of the moneyed class? Does everyone else just buy their food indirectly from the megadistributor Sysco, via the line cooks at Macaroni Grill?

June 21, 2007


"In our everyday economic behavior, we seem determined to discover whether we can live alone on earth."

This article made me very, very sad.

June 16, 2007

The wedding industry

From the Washington Post:

"If a bride has been told, repeatedly, that it costs nearly $28,000 to have a wedding, then she starts to think that spending nearly $28,000 on a wedding is just one of those things a person has to do, like writing a rent check every month or paying health insurance premiums. (Or she prides herself on being a budget bride and spending a mere $15,000 on the event.) She is less likely to reflect upon the fact that $28,000 would have more than covered a 10 percent down payment on the median purchase price of a house in 2005 and would cover the average cost to a family of a health insurance policy, at 2005 rates, for a decade. The bride who has been persuaded that $28,000 is a reasonable amount of money to spend on her wedding day is less likely to measure that total against the nation's median household income -- $42,389 in 2004 -- and reflect upon whether it is, in fact, reasonable for her or for anyone to spend the equivalent of seven and a half months of the average American's salary on one day's celebration."

June 15, 2007

Handouts for the wealthy

This kind of thing is grist for my mill.

The more we know, the less likely we are to buy into the myth that the wealthy deserve all that they have, while the poor owe what little they have to handouts.

June 14, 2007

Jack LaLanne

"'If man made it, don't eat it,' he used to say, decades ahead of the popular movement to eat more whole foods."

Of course, we know that Jack meant "synthesized in a vat of industrial chemicals" when he said "made." Ordinary chefery has to be OK.