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It ties back to the bake-off discussion though - when your food culture makes everything an instagrammed triumph by professionals, it intimidates Joe and Jane College from whipping out a box of goddamn Tuna Helper.

I grew up mostly feral which meant if it needed to be cooked I cooked it. The seminal event was likely my mother's "mac and cheese" - she got home earlier than usual, asked what we should have for dinner, I haltingly said "mac and cheese?" at the age of 7 because that's what dad made when she was out until 9pm teaching hippies anatomy, except there wasn't a blue box so my mother attempted to cobble something together out of egg noodles, monterey jack, evaporated milk and brie. "It's...good?" I tried, when forced to eat some, but she saw through my subterfuge, howled like an angry bear and flung the pot across the kitchen where it dented the washing machine. "THIS HOUSE WILL NEVER EAT MACARONI AND CHEESE AGAIN," my mother screamed, launching into a drunken tirade that lasted well into dawn the next day. And from that day forth the mac'n'cheese was sneaked into the house when my mother wasn't looking, and hidden behind the weevil-filled cake mix boxes for use only when we knew beyond a reasonable doubt she wouldn't be home before clean-up.

So I grew up knowing (1) restaurants were expensive (2) adults fucking freeballed recipes all the time (3) it's all just ingredients (4) some things take longer than others but my observation is that the '90s were an era where the fashionable thing was to exempt your children from the fundamental basics of living. My wife has a friend whose vacation was cut short back in 2017 because her senior-in-high-school son decided to opt out and stay home, then decided to have some chili, then rather than fucking googling "how do you use a can opener" pulled out an 8" chef's knife and stabbed a fucking can of Hormel until he'd cut through a couple tendons. Eighteen fucking years old. And again, it comes down to picking your battles: if none of your friends are teaching their kids how to cook, why would you? If Food Network isn't about 30 minute meals but Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, why would you learn to prep anything? One of the CryptoFux put up his Uber Eats totals for the year; dipshit had thrown $40k at getting fucking food delivered. that is some learned helplessness.

Wallerstein argued that there were five kinds of work: Subsistence, piecework, work-in-kind, wages and influence. Cooking for yourself or your family should be a mix of work-in-kind and influence - you're home, so you make dinner, and making great dinner means you are the recognized champion of dinner. That's the other problem - food prep has moved out of the realm of "things we all do together" or "things our family does" into "things our family watches someone else do while we eat food that someone else prepared that was brought to us by someone else." We've re-framed it from "these are my family's recipes which we inflict on others for clout" to "this is that thing that you do when you're poor." Re-read that Guardian article again - it's a lament for lost heritage.

Food has been a social thing going back to the advent of fire. But for the past 20 years it's been an opportunity for shareholder capitalism to extract value. And the end result is people crying over roast beef.