Flipping through my recipe file recently, I came across a favorite under the heading, "The 60-Minute Gourmet." I had clipped it years ago from The New York Times, in the days when Pierre Franey wrote a regular cooking column.
I chuckled, thinking that if the late Mr. Franey were still writing, his editors might suggest he change the column to "The 30-Second Gourmet."
Inventions such as the microwave, frozen entrees, and toaster pastries have quickened the pace of mealtime, but they have also helped usher in an era of poor table manners and impatient diners. It's a reflection of our culture that eating is treated more like refueling than partaking in a social ritual.
The tide may be starting to turn, however. Home cooks are rediscovering two icons of the 1970s - fondue sets and crockpots - and sales of both are booming.
Melted cheese may seem an odd way to get people to participate in the eating and socializing process, but sales are up.
So, too, are sales of crockpots, which allow you to pile in ingredients, set a timer, and return, hours later, to a simmering, slow-cooked meal.
Not convinced? What about the immense popularity of risotto, the Italian rice dish? This is truly a dish that cannot be rushed. It takes time for the grains to absorb the liquid and release their toothsome, starchy essence.
Cooking takes patience and a sense of delayed gratification. As those diners in this week's lead story have proven, food can be elevated to an art that everyone can share.
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