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  • 不能把做饭当成一件微不足道的小事
  • 2014/4/12 21:02:43 来源:重庆教育人生网
  •    潜入沃尔玛超市,靠最低工资过活,以工薪阶层的视角来看待做饭这件小事——于是它不再与美食杂志有关,不再与精美的异域食材有关,不再是令人愉悦的文化探索之旅。它只是一项生活技能,只是再平常不过却又不得不做的家务,无吸引力可言,但却是日常必需。
    It took me until I was 33 to start cooking dinner.
    Don’t get me wrong—I was no stranger to the kitchen. I had prepared laborious, extravagant meals before, often using exotic ingredients I’d learned about in magazines. My sisters and I had bonded in the kitchen, spending visits preparing elaborate dishes together for hours. Cooking had been everything the food world told me it could be: a way to engage with a community, to travel without leaving home, to respect the local environment, to look after my own health.
    And yet, even while espousing the ideals of the communal table and cross-cultural exploration, I rarely cooked dinner for myself in my 20s. Where was the fun in that? My sisters and I would groan to ourselves when my stepmother implored us not to cook Christmas dinner. (Her reasoning: It was too much work and we could just get Costco lasagna and be done with it.) But when left to my own devices, I would feed myself almost anything so long as I didn’t have to turn on the stove. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say I cooked a meal once a week and otherwise made do with hummus and pita, or cereal, or crackers and cheese and olives. I liked to commune with the foodie writers but not enough to cook every day.
    Which brings me to the dirty little secret that I suspect haunts every food writer: When you have no choice but to cook for yourself every single day, no matter what, it is not a fun, gratifying adventure. It is a chore. On many days, it kind of sucks.
    I might have gone to my grave denying this fundamental truth if I hadn’t reported a book that had me living and eating off minimum wage (and less). While working at Wal-mart in Michigan, I stocked up on bulk items, foolishly using middle-class logic (“great unit price”) instead of working-class smarts (“save enough cash for rent plus small emergencies”). I soon ran out of money and found myself hungry and exhausted, staring down a pantry containing little more than flour, coconut flakes, a few scraggly vegetables, and two frozen chicken thighs. There was nothing about this scene that inspired me to cook. The ingredients were boring. There were no friends bringing over bottles of wine. I had left my glossy food magazines in New York.
    But there would be no calling Papa John’s for pizza or stopping at Trader Joe’s for premade lasagna or a selection of fine cheeses; my $8.10 an hour precluded that. I had two choices: consume raw flour and cauliflower, or cook. By dint of my newfound poverty, I had lost the third option that most middle-class people take for granted: eating without having to cook. Once subjected to the tyranny of necessity, I found that making my meals from scratch wasn’t glamorous at all.
    There are many good reasons to cook meals from scratch. Cooking at home from whole ingredients is often cheaper than heading out to a restaurant—even a fast-food restaurant. Food made at home usually has far less salt and fat than either processed foods or what’s on offer in eateries. And, contrary to popular belief, families don’t save much time by turning to box meals like Hamburger Helper rather than cooking entirely from scratch. Researchers at UCLA found that, whether using processed foods or whole ingredients, American families spend about 52 minutes preparing their dinner every night.
    So the big question is, if cooking from whole ingredients is so easy and cost-effective and healthy, why don’t Americans do it more—particularly the low-income ones who are affected the most by obesity? This is a much trickier question than it seems because it implicitly evokes two pernicious myths about Americans’ cooking habits that I uncovered in the course of my reporting.
    The first myth here is that the poor do not cook. We tend to think that low-income Americans are flooding McDonald’s, while more affluent citizens dutifully eat better meals prepared at home. In reality, it is the middle class that patronizes the Golden Arches and its competitors. (That’s because fast food may be cheap, but it’s still more expensive than cooking at home.)
    The second myth is that cooking is easy. Making food quickly and well is easy once you know how to do it, but it is a learned skill, the acquisition of which takes time, practice, and the making of mistakes. To cook whole foods at a pace that can match box-meal offerings, one needs to know how to make substitutions on the fly; how to doctor a dish that has been overvinegared, oversalted, or overspiced; how to select produce and know how long you have to use it before it goes bad; how to stock a pantry on a budget. Without those skills, cooking from scratch becomes risky business: You may lose produce to rotting before you get the chance to cook it, or you may botch a recipe and find it inedible. Those mistakes are a natural part of learning to cook, but they will cost you and your family time, ingredients, and money without actually feeding you. They also make a persuasive case that cooking is not worth the trouble and that Hamburger Helper is worth the cost.
    There’s not much acknowledgment of these truths in the current discussion about the benefits of cooking. Instead, we divide ourselves into two opposing camps—“those who cook” and “those who don’t care.” When the stories we tell about cooking say that it is only ever fun and rewarding—instead of copping to the fact that it can also be annoying, time consuming, and risky—we alienate the people who don’t have the luxury of choice, and we unwittingly reinforce the impression that cooking is a specialty hobby instead of a basic life skill.
    So here’s my proposition for foodies and everyone else: Continue to champion the cause of cooking, but admit that cooking every day can be a drag. Just because it’s a drag doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it—we do things every day that are a drag. We take out the trash, we make our beds, we run the vacuum, and we pay the bills. These are not lofty cultural explorations, but they are necessary, and so we do them anyway.
    This reality check is exactly what’s missing from our discussion about our meals. At least, it’s what was missing from mine. Three years after my stint at Walmart, I’ve gotten over the idea that cooking is fun—or that it is even supposed to be fun. Sometimes it’s not. It certainly wasn’t when I was working at Walmart, especially that first night when I lurched my way around the kitchen and came up with a makeshift chicken curry. I grumbled to myself the whole time, but I ate well and physically felt good for several days after without spending an additional penny thanks to leftovers.
    Today, my approach to cooking is completely flipped from my pre-Walmart days. I now think of it not as a choice but as a chore—and that’s been oddly freeing. I no longer fret over what fabulous recipe I’ll make. I don’t try to psych myself up, to frame cooking as a fun event with which to entertain myself. I remind myself that I do all kinds of things that aren’t fun in the name of living a reasonably mature life, and then I cook something from scratch.
    直到33岁,我才开始下厨做饭。
    别误解我——我并不是厨房里的稀客。我之前做过耗时费力、豪华奢侈的大餐,通常是用我从杂志上看到的外国食材。我和姐妹们曾在厨房里增进感情,互相拜访时会一起花上几个小时烹调精致的菜肴。做饭于我来说曾经意味着美食世界向我描述的一切:一种与社区交往的方式,不出家门就周游各地的方式,尊重当地环境的方式,照料自身健康的方式。
    可是,尽管我信奉拼桌就餐、跨文化探索等理念,我在二十多岁的时候却很少自己做饭。做饭有什么意思?当继母恳求我和姐妹们不要做圣诞晚餐时,我们会抱怨。(继母的理由:做饭太费工夫,我们只要去好市多买点卤汁面条就搞定了。)可要是听凭我一个人拿主意时,只要不用开火做饭,我几乎吃什么都行。如果让我随便估算一下的话,我觉得自己每周也就做一次饭吧,其他时候就拿鹰嘴豆泥和皮塔饼,或是麦片、饼干、奶酪和橄榄对付一下。我喜欢和美食作家交流,但还没到天天做饭的地步。
    这让我想到一个在我看来困扰着每一位美食作家的阴暗小秘密:当你每天都得下厨做饭而别无选择时,做饭无论如何都不会是一项趣味十足、令人愉悦的活动。做饭是一项家务,而且很多时候相当令人讨厌。
    之前我写过一本书,这本书要求我以最低的工资(甚至更少)生活和吃饭。要不是有这段经历,我可能到死都不会承认这个根本性的事实。在密歇根州的沃尔玛工作期间,我没有运用工薪阶层的智慧(“节省足够的现金来支付房租和应对小型突发事件”),而是愚蠢地采用了中产阶级的逻辑(“好诱人的单价”),结果囤积了大量物资。我很快就把钱花光了,把自己搞得饥肠辘辘、筋疲力尽。我盯着食品储藏室,里面只有面粉、椰片、几根凌乱的蔬菜和两个冷冻鸡腿。此情此景根本无法激励我下厨做饭。食材乏善可陈,也没有朋友带酒过来,我还把自己光面纸印刷的美食杂志留在了纽约。
    但是我不会打电话到“棒!约翰”买比萨,也不会去“老乔的店”买半成品的卤汁面条或是选一份优质奶酪。我每小时8.1美元的收入排除了上述可能性。我有两种选择:要么吃生面粉和花椰菜,要么做饭。由于我刚刚陷入贫困,我失去了大多数中产阶级认为理所当然的第三种选择:不下厨也能吃饭。一旦为生计所迫,我发现从零开始动手做饭毫无吸引力可言。
    从零开始动手做饭有很多好处。全部使用原料在家做饭往往比去外面的饭店便宜——哪怕是去快餐店。比起加工食品或小餐馆里的饭菜来说,在家烹制的食物所含的盐和油通常会少得多。而且与普遍的看法相反,吃“汉堡帮手”之类盒装食品的家庭并不会比完全从零开始做饭的家庭节省很多时间。加州大学洛杉矶分校的研究人员发现,无论是使用加工食品还是全部从原料开始做,美国家庭每晚都要花大概52分钟的时间准备晚餐。
    那么关键的问题在于,如果全部从原料开始动手做饭如此简单易行、经济高效、健康有益,为什么美国人不更多地在家做饭呢?特别是低收入家庭,他们患肥胖症的比例最高。这个问题并不像看上去那么简单,因为它间接引出了有关美国人做饭习惯的两种有害的错误观念,这是我在写书的过程中发现的。
    第一种错误观念是穷人不做饭。我们往往认为低收入的美国人会挤满麦当劳,而更有钱的公民会尽职尽责地在家做饭,吃得更好。实际上,经常光顾麦当劳及其竞争对手的人是中产阶级。(这是因为快餐也许便宜,但还是比在家做饭贵。)
    第二种错误观念是做饭很简单。你要是知道怎么做饭,很容易就能把饭做得又快又好,但做饭是一种通过学习才能掌握的技巧,获得这种技巧需要时间、实践和犯错。要想烹制全营养食品,速度还要赶上外面卖的盒餐,你需要了解如何在匆忙之中替换原料;如何在放多了醋、放多了盐、放多了调料的情况下对一道菜进行补救;如何选择农产品,并知道在多长时间内必须用掉它以免其变质;如何不用花很多钱就能在储藏柜里储备食物。没有这些技能,从零开始做饭就变成一件冒险的事:或许没等你有机会烹调呢,农产品就已经腐烂了;或许你笨手笨脚地把菜做砸了,根本没法下口。在学习做饭的过程中犯这些错误是正常的,但你和家人会为此搭时间、费原料、花钱,却无法填饱肚子。这些错误还有力地说明为做饭劳神费力毫不值得,而“汉堡帮手”物有所值。
    如今在讨论做饭的好处时,上述这些事实很少得到认可。相反,我们将自己分为两个对立的阵营——“做饭的人”和“不在乎的人”。如果我们在讲述做饭的故事时,张口闭口只说做饭有趣又有益,却对做饭也可能烦人、费时、危险这一事实矢口否认,那么我们就疏远了那些没有条件选择的人。同时我们也在无意中强化了这样一种印象:做饭是一种特长爱好,而不是一项基本生活技能。
    所以我给美食家和其他所有人提出以下建议:继续倡导烹饪事业,但要承认天天做饭是件烦人的事。烦人并不意味着我们就应该因此而不做饭——我们每天做的很多事都是烦人的。我们倒垃圾、铺床、用吸尘器打扫卫生、付账单。这些事情都不是什么崇高的文化探索活动,但都是日常必需的,因此不管怎么说我们都会去做。
    这种直面现实的态度正是我们关于餐饮的讨论中所缺失的。至少这是我的观念中所缺失的。我曾在沃尔玛工作了一段时间,三年之后,我彻底放弃了做饭有趣这一观点,甚至是做饭应该有趣这一观点。有时候,做饭并无趣味可言。而我在沃尔玛工作的那段时间,做饭肯定是无趣的,特别是第一天晚上,我在厨房里忙来忙去才凑合弄出一份咖喱鸡。尽管我一直在抱怨,但在接下来的几天里,多亏了剩菜,我才没多花一分钱却吃得很好,身体感觉也不错。
    如今,我对待做饭的态度与我在沃尔玛工作之前完全相反。我现在不再认为做饭是一种选择,而将其视为一项家务——奇怪的是这让我得到了解脱。我不再发愁自己要做什么精美的菜肴,不再努力让自己兴奋起来,也不再将做饭设定为一件充满趣味、愉悦自我的大事。我会提醒自己,我做各种各样无趣的事情,都是为了过一种合理的成熟生活,然后我就会从零开始动手做饭。

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