In his TED talk, Watzke (2010) explains that we should call ourselves Coctivors (from coquere, Latin for ‘to cook’) rather than vegetarians, carnivores or omnivores; as we are the animals who live on cooked food. He elaborates further that our teeth have been “made for a diet which is soft, mushy, reduced in fibers, chewable and digestible…sounds like fast food”. the attraction to fast food isn’t just because we are lazy masochistic folk, it stems from our evolution. Thanks Darwin, this is perfect self-justification for the next time I will be gobbling down a burger with fries. American gastronomy is at all-time high. Our chefs are the most creative they’ve ever been. The number of good ones has increased tenfold. Their technique is masterful; their skill level sky-high. They use better ingredients than ever did before; and they take more care than ever before. There’s only one problem, as I see it. Nobody is actually cooking. Now, this is not a universal condemnation; I don’t wish to bury our chefs in mindless blanket criticism, like a chicken-fried steak under a pool of gravy. That would be dismissive. Even worse, it would be dumb. But at the same time, it’s impossible for me not to notice that almost all of the dishes I find myself eating these days are not so much created as composed. Is that the same thing as cooking? You tell me. Here are four dishes from four celebrated restaurants. All represent trends or schools credited, by nerds like me, with having their own discrete identities. One is lardcore; another is high modernist; another is greenmarket/locavore; and the last one, coming straight outta Copenhagen, as it were, is New Norwegian. Here are the four dishes: • Oyster, lovage, garlic. • Lamb belly, braised lettuce, mushroom hay, yogurt curds. • Golden tilefish, sweet potato, radicchio. • Roasted redfish, whole roasted celery root, compressed Granny Smith apples, bok choi, Brewster oats, dill . I know that people like me have been complaining about skimpy portions and newfangled methods since the advent of nouvelle cuisine fifty years ago. But the nouvelle cuisine at least had sauces. I often wonder to myself why I like Italian food so much. Why am I happier with a bowl of spaghetti than I am with a duo of squab with glazed parsley root and three and a half grams of kimchi? It’s not because I have the palate of a child. It’s because pasta is one of the last bastions of melded flavors. All the elements — whether sepia or marrow or white truffles or black truffles or bagna càuda — are caught up in a whirl of flavor, a single unifying force that twines its way even around each tine, and delivers its cumulative power in a single forkful. Is that really too much to ask? If you are a young cook coming up, there is a major challenge facing you. This is a pivot point for American cuisine (whether Americans know it or not). Somebody needs to reinvent the art of cooking. I don’t know who is going to do it; maybe nobody wil. A few chefs seem to be up to the task.I’m not here to correct the practice of our chefs. I have never worked in a restaurant, my tastes are primitive, and I doubt I will ever know as much about food as an average high-end line cook does by the age of twenty-five. I’m not here to provide a solution, and I’m not here to tell anyone how to cook. I don’t know how to cook. I only know how to eat. I’m asking our chefs to cook, really cook, and if they can’t do it, I’m hoping someone else can. Because I really miss it.
Ozersky, Josh. “We Need to Bring Back Cooking.” Esquirecom Article. Esquire.com, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Dec. 2014. A call to arms amid an American culinary crisis