One of the more popular reality television programs in the United States is Top Chef, a cooking competition for young professional chefs (cooks). On the show, contestants (people who are participating in the competition or game) try to cook the best possible food, often in a very short amount of time. (Top means “the best” in this case.) It is one of several popular cooking shows now in the U.S.
Many Americans like to cook. Sadly, I am not one of them. But it is possible nowadays to pretend like you’re cooking, even when you aren’t doing all of the normal hard work of preparing a meal.
Several food companies have developed what we might call “half-cooked” or “half-prepared” meals, where most of the work is done for you, but not all of it.
You might wonder why companies would sell meals that were not completely finished. The answer is simple: guilt.
People feel guilty (bad because you did something wrong) about saying they “cooked” something when they don’t have some active participation in the preparation.
This fact came to light (was discovered; became known) in the 1940s, when baking companies discovered a way to sell cake mix (a dry, powdered form of the cake ingredients) that only required adding water and putting it in the oven. When they went to sell the product to (mostly) American women, they hated it!
So the companies tried something different. They made the mix so that you would need to add an egg with the water. That concept was an instant (immediate) hit (very successful). Women said this felt more like “real cooking.”
Even to this day (even today; nowadays), you have to buy an egg to add to the cake mix before baking it.
There are variations (different versions) of this approach (tactic; way of doing something). Some companies package (put into small bags) the individual ingredients (things you use to make food) separately so that you have to “add” them together to cook and eat the food. Again, the companies could just put them all together for you, but people want to feel like they’re cooking.
Another popular version is to require you to buy some “fresh” food, such as vegetables or meat, which is then added to the box of ingredients you get from the store.
I am hoping that someday soon, there will be another edition (kind; variation) of Top Chef called Top Chef: Fake Edition, where people like me who pretend to cook can compete against other fake (false; not real) cooks. I’m pretty sure I’d win.
Is “pretend cooking” popular where you live? Have you ever “fake cooked” a meal?
Image credit: Chef by Juan Pablo Bravo from The Noun Project