I have to link to BBQdude's most recent posting on Indirect Heat (it's a pretty nice blog, please go subscribe), where he bids adieu to a long enduring subscription to Gourmet magazine. In it, he decries that Gourmet, well, doesn't do gourmet anymore. And that's a problem - everywhere I look, the cooks who once inspired me are disappearing, being replaced by personalities and procedures dumbed down to make cooking "approachable" and "easy". From the loathesome prattlings of Sandra Lee to the endorsement of precut vegetables by Rachael Ray (can you believe that Central Market has an entire section of the store now devoted to precut vegetables? And "kit cooking"?), to the need to revise such enduring works as The Joy of Cooking to remove overly complicated terms like "creaming butter".
There's a crevasse between teaching and dumbing things down. And I do believe the popular media is doing just that.
Of course, one issue is that just because one has a recipe doesn't mean that one can cook. There's a set of skills that comes from experience that is difficult to record and transmit quickly. Cooking well is an art melded with science, and tempered with performance.
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