Back To Basics: Can We Get Rid Of Fancy Food?

image credit: Thinkstock

image credit: Thinkstock

My friends, food is getting fancier. I love the creativity and new flavors and inspiration that come from all of these websites, and TV shows, and entire networks devoted to the enjoyment and experimentation of the culinary arts.

But for fudge sake, can we just eat some normal food? I feel like we are going down the Tiny House rabbit hole, but with food. Like the needless absurdity of trying to compact a family of six into a 125-square foot home on wheels, we have elevated the shit right out of the humble apple pie and created a cloud of Granny Smith dreams in a cocoon of baby wheat berries and small batch cultured ghee shipped straight from Nepal in a goat’s bladder.

I get it. Food gets really boring. But all of these bored mamas dreading making dinner, and lacking inspiration, deciding to create food blogs and new recipes and trying to make coffee flour and chia seeds A Thing are making my oven cranky. And, oh hey, I AM THE BORED FOOD BLOGGER MOM AND I’M MAKING MYSELF CRANKY.

Sometimes, don’t you just want to eat a blue box of mac and cheese? Do you ever get tired of trying to make kombucha gummy snacks in 16 different flavors and just up and eat a box of Gushers? When was the last time you said EFF THIS, threw down your ancient artisan grains mid-grind and bought a loaf of white bread? Also, since when does the word "artisan" mean that your food is fancy?  What do you have to do in order to qualify your bread as artisan?  Where do I apply for that? Because I feel like my food game is going to be doomed to inferiority until I can define what "artisan" actually is. Is it a marking, or a process, or a blessing from a virgin? Tell me. 

I didn’t even know what kohlrabi was until Alton Brown told me I needed it in my culinary repertoire. At his behest, I salvaged some crushably soft spiky balls otherwise doomed to a slow, discounted, fluorescent-lighted death, languishing in an obscure corner of the produce aisle. 

OK, I admit Alton was right. Kohlrabi is versatile, and works equally well in a salad or grilled. But you know what else is yummy? BROCCOLI. Steamed. With a pinch of salt and maybe a glob of butter. By itself. No spirit of Alton Brown silently judging me from the perch on my shoulder, not dredged in sorghum flour or the early morning tears of Kat Kora.

Just food. Unfancy. Wholesome. Okay, maybe a little unwholesome too.

I am an ardent fan of eating whole foods and home-cooked, slow-cooked food. Before I had a baby, I spent entire days experimenting and cooking and studying knife skills on YouTube and watching old pirated episodes of The French Chef with Julia Child. Nothing brings me more joy than feeding my friends and family, and I have no real meter for “too fancy." I jump into the culinary pond feet first, and don’t look back.

But the cultural shift we are undergoing, where food needs to be fancy in order to be acceptable, is ridiculous. Whatever happened to sharing a simple meal around the table with friends? When people were the main attraction and not food? And I love a good meal. It excites me. But not as much as a burrito bowl from the shop on the corner with my favorite people. I love digging into a new cookbook or cooking method, but not as much as I love digging into a good conversation with the people I love most in the world. I love celebrating a birthday with a four-layer cake, but I love the minimal effort of opening a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck and sipping it from red solo cups in the yard after my kid goes to sleep just as much.

Food, just like anything else in this world, doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. In fact, sometimes fancy gets in the way of being real and relatable. Exciting and unexpected? Yes. But so is Kanye West.  All our meals can’t be the Kanye West concert of eating.

Bring on the humble (apple) pie and simple ham sammies. Let’s let food be good again.

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