My friend "butch" and I are planning a Lebanese feast. My desire to taste the flavors of the middle east had me ask, "Why do I need to go to a restaurant for this? I wager I can probably make it?" while I love and enjoy Greek food, I probably would give the nod to Lebanese and other middle eastern cuisines because of the slightly different flavor profile. Like now, I am thinking of Ethiopian cuisine and wondering, "why not try to make that?"
This all had me laugh about some childhood moments with food and/or processed food that probably was the start of the united states obesity epidemic. Who knew tang and tv dinners would lead to a path where eating healthy would cost more than the processes, inexpensive, and readily available fast food choices of today? The burgeoning market for home delivery and prepackaged meals that are similar to the original "homemade cookies!" They were a pre-sliced dough that you just took out of a wrapper and placed on a cookie sheet and baked at home. It was a miserable failure. So, the marketing research folks studied it and found that housewives felt they were cheating with the idea of "homemade." When the company sold the dough, unsliced, and the housewife had to cut the dough – the product line took off into a raging financial success.
Soon, we will either have feeding stations where people will ingest gruel and or we will have lab-grown meal packets that people will have sent to their home, they stick it in a microwave or boil it and assemble it on a plate and that will be called "home-cooked!" Technically, they aren't lying, as it was cooked in a home. Wouldn't it be more honest to call it "home processed, or home assembled?"
I digress, as kids, I remember two food groups. One was when the space race took off, and NASA was inventing all sorts of ways to "eat-in zero gravity, outer space," one of the more prominent brands was a mixable drink called TANG. I think it was supposed to be orange juice. I don't really remember. What I do know is that it was expensive, and we bugged the daylights out of mom to allow us to have "what the astronauts drink!" I guess it is no different than me wondering why people spend so much on licensed team and entertainment apparel today? There is some psychological rub of "being like," and the truth and reality are it probably would have been tastier, healthier, and better to simply juice my own oranges.
With TV dinners. I remember that it was something big and special. Hungry man? I don't know the brand, but instead of eating at the table where dad was Mr. meat and potatoes and I was like, "what is Indian, Chinese? American? Middle eastern? French food like?" You could get this prepackaged meal that the precursor to processed, high salt, high fat food that you stuck in an oven and peeled off the cover (I think you poked a hole in one of the foil thigs so it would vent…perhaps that was the dessert portion) and you got to set up these funky little tables that were for TV viewing (and snacking). You could watch Walter Cronkite give the news while you ate your "hungry man" fried chicken or mystery meat meal.
As I typed all this, out. I am looking at our work on the intelligent growing space, which has me look at MIT and Caleb's food computer and want to smack him the next time I see him. The idea is really a good one – yet – the learned implementation from academia simply has exposed just how big a weakness there is in academia with theory vs. reality. Currently, I am on a mission to find some short term prototype space to crank out a series of prototypes to actually make sure it works instead of talking about it. There is the reality that I don't think people want to actually make or create things as much as they want to look at, click a button, and purchase something. Perhaps that is part of the problem in urban agriculture? Plants take time and are living and dynamic things that need some care, ironically, not much when you have the recipes for each plant worked out. The problem is the plants grow so fast, and you have to keep them in check with pruning and trimming. I have this one basil plant that is more like a tree here that I keep experimenting with trimming int back and seeing what the effects will be on flavor, and the dang thing keeps growing. I am astounded.
Forgive my other digression. So, I sit here, giving away the tomato crop of the wayward weed planet tomatoes. I will start a couple new ones and groom them into bonsai tomato bushes that are manageable and don't take up too much space, and I have a few spices I want to grow – also I have the list from my florist friend about the five most beautiful smelling flowers in n. America. One of them smells like a wedding, and I can't pronounce the name of the plant, but I will see about making some essential oil out of that in the second phase of this new prototype.
Go figure. For years I have tried to take my grandmother's dill pickle recipe and bring it to the mass market. The reality is the ingredient quality is too high to make it profitable. So instead, I have pivoted to other things that I am sure she would smile down from heaven. If it helps people feel better and/or allows beautiful scents to a room where people could eat their chocolate or ice cream cones, she would be thrilled.
And yeah, the more I look at the masses, and what people feel, the reality is. I guess I am the odd one anymore. I keep asking, "why?" and keep coming up with more and deeper questions, all of what is very interesting.
My only advice to a young person today is to find what you are passionate about and love to do. And whatever you do in life, don't stop learning, trying, and growing.
Perhaps that is how we end up with a society of watchers being programmed with bias from a few organizations that care more about profit than truth? I don't really know. But that is my two-cent ramble as I have to get a bunch of ducks in a row. At least that is easier than herding cats.
Oh yeah, i have to get some spices today as well. toodles