Podcast 001: Pizza Lunchables Are the Folly of Man

Podcast 001: Pizza Lunchables Are the Folly of Man

Ina Garten, Contessa of Barefootedness, has been quoted to quote Julia Child on her cooking show with this little opinion:

“I like French food because Italian food—I don't consider it 'cooking'.”

Well, Ina. I get your point. Cooking down-home Italian is not necessarily an “art”. The ingredients are simple, preparation is repetitious, and rare is that you require a brûlée torch to prepare a dish of spaghetti and meatballs. Plus, I’m almost certain that my Italian family’s ancestors would have beaten you with a wooden spoon had you suggested that their soup would taste better with a bit of salmon foam.

However, I pose this rebuttal:

Where is the French chain restaurant with the tagline, “When you’re here, you’re family”?

Italian-American “cuisine” is meant to make you feel like you’re ingesting 'home', first, in the figurative sense, in that each family’s preparation of the same dish has a unique flavor, different than that of the family next door. For instance, I shed a tear every time that I eat marinara sauce that is too sweet, unlike my father’s, which is flavored with slightly burnt garlic that melds deliciously with Pecorino Romano cheese. It provides you with a sense of lasting comfort, unlike a cheeseburger that makes you feel good for an hour and then turns on your digestive system faster than a Tinder date who only really wanted to meet up to score a free drink.

Next, Italian food is rarely eaten alone. It’s meant to be shared with others in tandem with conversation, which in most cases, is a loving shouting match between your uncles Big Nick and Little Nick over a big bottle of Chianti. It’s prepared in the blink of an eye for friends or family in mourning as soul food, which I speak on in this podcast and have written about previously in the case of Sympathy Lasagna.

Though I joke about the Olive Garden tagline (I’M SO CLEVER, I KNO), I want to distinguish that there is certainly a difference between authentic Italian cuisine and the Americanized version of it that we have come to modify here in the States. Dishes have been invented. For example, if you ask for a chicken parm sandwich in Florence, they will probably laugh you all the way to McDonalds. Also, Italian food has become synonymous with excess—excess portions, excess cheese, excess carb-age. The idea of “family style” has been diluted to the American concept of “more is more”.

When I lived in Italy for 5 months, I experienced many instances of large, shared plates, but never did I feel quite as stuffed as if I ate a literal piece of a house. I attribute this to the fresh ingredients that were used as opposed to the garbage that has entered our food in the New World. I mean, what the fuck even is a pizza Lunchable anyway? I never understood its concept as a choice to bring to school for lunch because, essentially, what you have at the end of its preparation is a cold assemblage of “raw”, rubbery ingredients.

If you’re listening, Mr. Oscar Mayer: Cold pizza only tastes good after it’s been cooked.

Just as bad as Lunchables are microwavable dinners. As I question in my rambling, which I’ll let you get to once I’m finished writing this rambling here, if you’re so desperate for a quick and easy meal, why don’t you just make some eggs? They’re delicious, versatile, densely nutritious, and most importantly, they’re not a frozen hunk of preservatives. You deserve better than Hungry Man! Save a divided tray of “meatloaf” and “creamed corn” for 70 years down the road when your children throw you into a home where you’re forced to eat prepared meals in an assless hospital gown while watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Or Who’s Left of Them.

Below, I’ve provided you with the quotes from Marcella Hazan’s "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" that I quote in my poopcast and a link to her cookbook on Amazon if you’re interested. Next time back at my Prep Station where I gear up to write a cookbook without any prior experience in doing so, I’ll take a look at her Introduction chapter and provide you with my own.

Love conquers all, but narcissism is more entertaining.


Amarcord: Marcella Remembers
By Marcella Hazan

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