by John Ryan
You know, we're all supposed to be strapped for time. And maybe we are, but it makes me suspicious. Being portrayed as harried and stressed out isn't a public service. No, companies are dying to sell us convenient new products and gadgets and publishers want us to replace old recipes with new, streamlined recipes. And we won't buy the stuff if we don't think we'll get a time-rebate, a couple hours we didn't know we had.
What nobody talks about is context...occasion, the common sense that puts you in blue jeans to run errands or a suit to interview for a job. Consider soup. Everybody knows it's easy, but by now it's thought to be so time consuming that you'd have to have a positively medieval lifestyle to make it from scratch. In my own life soup has become a Sunday thing. Here's how it goes.
I arrange with a couple friends to go to a 3 o'clock movie and come back to my place for dinner. Sunday morning I have some coffee and read a section of the paper. When the first cup kicks in and I'm ready to hold a knife, I get the soup going. This takes half an hour or so, then I go back to the paper. A couple hours pass while I finish the paper, call my parents... When the soup is done, I put it away, get cleaned up, go to a bookstore, then maybe meet up at a coffee shop and go to the movie. If dessert is obligatory, I stop at a convenience store on the way home and pick up some ice cream. Otherwise, when I get home I crack a few beers and throw together a batch of corn bread. While that's in the oven and the soup is on a back burner, I toss a salad.
Now, I feel as pressed for time as the next guy, but I've lounged around, made soup from scratch, even made some for the week ahead. I've gotten out for a while and seen a good movie (hopefully). I've even entertained for crying out loud. It's a good day.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
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