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Thursday, December 07, 2006

PSA for the culinarily trepidatious

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I admit it, I actually wrote this article for a class assignment, but I thought I would share, seeing as I am on a cooking hiatus.

Mageiricophobia, the intense fear of cooking, is not as rare as one might think. The bigger question is why, with the abundance of choice in grocery stores today, do so many people choose to gorge themselves on fast food. How is it that of males aged 19-30, only 37.9 per cent eat at home on an average day? And women aren’t much better, with only 43.1% opting to dine-in. Statistics Canada released a survey in July 2006 that revealed some rather shocking findings about the eating habits of Canadians.

Most of us eat too much fat, too much protein, way too much sodium and not enough veggies. But we all know that now – this isn’t exactly news.

As a nation, we are becoming nearly as wobbly and jiggly and lethargic as our southern neighbours. Is our addiction to fast food the root of all evil? Is the lack of food product labeling leading us astray?

I’d like to suggest neither.

Quite simply, our nation is getting “growing” because we don’t know how to cook. The sense of fear and panic faced by many in the kitchen is rivaled only by their total incomprehension of a standard recipe. The 19-30 demographic in particular is by far the generation that is the least ill-equipped to care for itself in modern history. Ask an average university student to make EasyMac, and you’ll probably be in luck. Ask the same student to make stovetop Kraft Dinner…and you might luck out with someone who has used a stove before. But ask the same student if they could make you some macaroni and cheese like mom did….and a blank stare is all you’ll get.

With out-of-control urban sprawl, by the time people get home from work, the last thing they want to do is make a healthy, wholesome dinner for themselves. These are people who don’t have the time or energy to cook, and even if they did have the inclination, they have zero skills in the kitchen. They are terrified!

Two sisters, Janet and Greta Podleski, have devised a delightfully clever solution to this problem. Their third cookbook, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry, is filled with jokes, wisdom, and very easy recipes. From start to finish, this cookbook runs the gamut of cuisines from Bangkok to Bangor. Filled with crazy monikers, ES&BM (as those in the know call it) is a no-nonsense, simple approach to healthy eating. ““If I can’t find the ingredients at my local grocery store, then I’m not putting them in the book,” says Greta, the inspirational genius behind the recipes. With such witty titles as “Lord of the Wings and “Flank ‘n’ Stein,” the cheesy sense of humour calms even the most apprehensive soul.

And her approach is winning over the mageiricophobics - so engaging that it has developed a cult-like following on the internet. One devoted thread on a popular message board boasts over 15 000 views and nearly 600 posts! Jess from London said “I don't really cook all that much and I found this very easy to follow.” Easy to follow indeed – the Podleskis are careful to gently introduce any unusual ingredients to the reader – from herbes de provence to making their own fresh bread crumbs – this book is a boon to the culinarily trepidatious. “I’m starting to think that this is the best $18 I have spent,” adds Jan from Milton, “I bought ES&BM last week and have honestly never been so excited about any one cookbook!”

Rarely has there been a cookbook so worthy of excitement. A valiant volley in the battle of the bulge, the Podleskis are to be congratulated for their dedication and absurdity when dealing with something that is no small matter. I can only suggest that you finish up with a decadent slice of “La Vida Mocha,” a decadent chocolate mocha mousse cake, that offers a mere 187 calories per generous slice. “Decadent and yummy” is the scrawled review in my own stained, sticky and well-evaluated copy.

You too can find decadence at any local bookstore, at a suggested price of $29.95 per copy (though it can be found for less if you hunt around).

Too much fun. Make your own here.


Anonymous said...

Love your article and, of course, ES&BM. I got my start in the kitchen thanks to the Podleski's!

Anonymous said...

I have their first cookbook, and although I like it, I still hate cooking. I find cooking a complete waste of my time, and rather be doing other things. If I can start making a healthy meal (eg taking ingredients out of fridge and cupboards, cut, cook, eat meal and wash all dishes within a 10 min time span, then I will hate cooking less.

But that's just me.

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