Is frozen food killing dining?

Mark Bittman has a great rant on the fall of Parisian cuisine in the New York Times that’s worth a read, even if you’ll never go to Paris. It gets to the heart of the problem with many restaurants around the world, and why dining out is simply not that pleasing of an experience at most places:

Restaurants in the home of la grande cuisine have become much like they are elsewhere. If you want a meal out featuring great ingredients prepared fresh and with skill you can find one, but you have to be very diligent, very lucky or willing to spend big; the vast majority of restaurants disappoint.

The more I’ve gotten into food, the more time I’ve spent cooking at home. Most restaurants I frequent in the mid-price range serve mediocre food at best that, prepared with fresh ingredients and care, are far better at home. Stellar dining experiences are at places like Little Serow and Rose’s Luxury, which are so expensive that it’s hard to rationalize eating out like that more than every-so-often. That sort of eating is a feast for the senses, a sort of artistic experience I believe is divorced from the everyday need to satiate ourselves.

The latter, I argue, must be done at home. To be fair, there are many restaurants trying to cook with seasonal and fresh ingredients, but I think their price points still make them a little out-of-reach as the everyday meal. Some food trucks provide bargain food that is well cooked, but often the sourcing is difficult to trace. You can’t be certain what you’re putting in your mouth unless you make it yourself.

I realize that most people are still eating out a lot, but I think there is a tide turning in our country. I find more young people showing an interest in cooking their own meals, evidenced by the people who enroll in the Just Simply… Cuisine classes we teach for beginning cooks. The Internet, too, has made it easier than ever to look up a recipe — or 10 — and make whatever we want, whenever we want. With grocery delivery, farm shares and farmer’s markets in most urban centers, cooking at home is easier than ever. And thank heavens for that, since our restaurants are too busy cutting corners to care!

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