Thursday, July 24, 2014

Home Making

"Tastes just like homemade..." they say.

There are two kinds of people in the world. (Yes, yes, I know: those who say there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't.) One kind is me. The other kind is people who, upon tasting something delicious in a restaurant/cafe/coffee shop/diner/bar/deli immediately think to themselves, "How could I (re)create this at home?"

You know what I hear in that question? "Wow, I've just eaten this delicious meal or perhaps I'm still eating it, and isn't it nice to sit here relaxing and enjoying it with my friends in this beautiful ambiance overlooking the water, or perhaps I'm having a quiet lunch with a book in my go-to spot, or maybe we're celebrating and accompanying this food with lots of wine on a fun night out. and all I can think about is how I could eat the same thing, but with more work involved on my part!!"

I'm thinking about this because I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition this, well, morning (duh) and I heard the host introduce the next story by asking, "Do you like Nutella? Well, you can make Nutella at home!" and I'm just over here all like, "But why? Why would you want to?" Of course the story proceeded to answer that question (nothing new here, folks: it's cheaper! it's healthier to not have the commercial preservatives and stabilizers that sometimes appear! it's "fun"! that last being debatable, of course) but mostly it proceeded to make us listeners spend time with one of the America's Test Kitchen  chaps who talked about how to make your own graham crackers and kale chips.

Personally, I have other things that I want to spend my time doing besides making my own graham crackers. That's not to say other people shouldn't make their own graham crackers. Two kinds of people!

But I have actually talked (you might say: argued) about this before with Brian. He and I disagree about what's a fun/appropriate time to spend cooking at home. I'm more into cooking/baking (mostly baking) things spontaneously, for fun. I actually get annoyed when I have to cook because I'm hungry. It's like having to do laundry before you can get dressed. One day, I thought maybe it just comes down to a two-kinds-of-people thing, and I compared it to buying a home espresso machine. Remember when that happened for a little while? A bunch of yuppies/earthy-crunchies/hipsters were all about getting their own espresso machines. Did that trend go away? Or did all the people who are going to buy one just take care of that already and now the market is done with that particular durable good until another generation or two goes by?  Anyway, I still remember the first person I talked to about that. I was a very young twentysomething in L.A., and a friend who worked in the cafe at Borders!!  I must emphasize this point!! started telling me about how she wanted to get an espresso machine for her apartment and so on and I just stood there staring at her. She didn't even have the "it's cheaper!" excuse because she worked there and had the whole free coffee/employee discount/I do this all day/access thing going on. She just wanted to have an espresso machine at home to be able to make espresso drinks at home, as did a bunch of other people who moved from having just coffeemakers to having espresso machines on their countertops and I just sit there thinking, no. I WANT to go to the coffee house! I want the barista to make it for me! Two kinds of people.

So when I had this epiphany, I told Brian that I just couldn't get inside the head of someone who's sitting there in a restaurant enjoying something and their first thought is, "I should make this at home!" My thought is: no, I shouldn't. I should enjoy it here. I should be here now.  And I certainly shouldn't think I can one-up this chef's delicious creation.

That's another part of the equation that confuses me. I enjoy going out to eat (not really in an expensive way, but in an Anna's Taqueria/take-out/street food way) and I am hard-pressed to think of any friend or relative who has ever made some particular dish that tastes better than what I can get in a restaurant, but I can think of plenty of restaurant foods that taste better than what I can get in a friend's/a relative's/my own kitchen. Let's see, I'm thinking...Brian makes a lot of delicious marinades for grilling and I understand the fun grilling out/summertime (with a beer, please, thank you)/tailgate grill/cook-out tradition, and he makes these amazing delicious burgers on the grill that will definitely blow you away, know, if you like to eat meat... but I can't think of much else. There is no sandwich/pasta/potato/ burrito/enchilada/ stir-fry/salad/cake/curry that someone has ever made in a home for dinner that inspires me to not go back to a professional for sandwiches/pasta/potatoes/burritos/enchiladas/ stir-fries/salads/cakes/curries. I mean, don't get me wrong. Brian can (and does!) make delicious food. I'm all for people making delicious food. What I don't relate to is sitting in an eating or drinking establishment enjoying something delicious and pondering how I could do it myself instead of enjoying the convenience of paying someone to do it for me.

So when we had this conversation a few months back, Brian didn't really understand how interesting this insight was to me, that there are just two different kinds of people, one kind (me) who sit there enjoying their food in the restaurant, and the other kind who sit there wondering how they can do the work themselves to enjoy that food with more effort at home. Then it was really funny to me because a mere week or two later we were in a great breakfast spot in Detroit with his parents -- we're talking all the good Yelp! reviews and whatnot, that we found by searching "Best breakfast Detroit" and all that -- and while we're enjoying the pancakes that are so good and I'm plotting how to return there in the future for more pancakes or waffles or whatever, his mom pipes up, "I could make pancakes at home!" and I'm like, "Eek! See, Brian, this is what we just talked about!" and I thought it was really funny but Brian doesn't think it's really funny because he thinks I'm being mean (?) or something because I don't really jam out in the kitchen with him and his parents (which, they are there all the time. In the kitchen, I mean. Hours. Every day.) but it's not mean, it's just: two kinds of people in the world. There's me, and there's his mom.

There's "How great is the world that we can all be in a society and divide up our duties to sustain life, like some people build the roads, and some people design the houses, and some people work in the hospitals, and some people write the books, and some people make the wine, and restaurants exist and some people cook delicious food and I pay them and then I eat it!" and there's "I'm going to make this!"

Which kind are you?

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