The Kitchen Is Our Egg


funny. I was just thinking last night during the boring process of making the food that sustains me, "Interesting that I've had food poisoning three times, and all three happened as a result of ingesting bad food that was kept too long in a restaurant refrigerator."
Soooo no eggs this morning for you?
Sorry that you're bad at cooking.
People who live in the city do not really need a kitchen (or a big one). It would make more sense for us to turn over the boring business of the kitchen to places outside the house, to places run by those who can actually cook for a living.

That's a fantastic idea for a communist utopia in which restaurants don't have to charge excess amounts for the food they cook in order to pay their bills and there's no such thing as poor people.

Or do you think the poor should live off McDonald's? (Which is still quite a bit more expensive than rice, beans, potatoes, etc, cooked at home.)

I'm slowly crawling my way up into a middle class income and still can't fathom having the money to toss around for eating out at every meal.
Hell no. This blurb says more about your life style than anything else. Even though I have lived my entire life in the city, I come to very different conclusions. Preparing and eating food is central to our family life and it has always been so. No illusion there.
Perhaps you don't know that many of the dollar store mixes are just-add-water?

Your argument is interesting, but detached from some realities, as stomach-gazing is want to do...

Plenty of people cook largely from unprocessed ingredients. A large portion of them like it.

Food processing, in this country especially, is improperly regulated and is a vector for many of the bad things about our food.

With an insignificant number of exceptions, most restaurant cooking is geared towards taste, and it is harder to maintain a healthy diet that way.

Food deserts, those sections of famine inflicted on the poor even in this country, tend to also lack restaurants, with the notable exception of junk food.

Cities simply have not solved food the way you imply they have.
I'm pretty sure Snopes busted this myth about the egg.
I love cooking. I make some of the most delicious dishes I've ever tasted and could never find anywhere else. When I do use a mix, I add different things to experiment. I have a kitchen full of gadgets that make cooking easy. You will have to pry my spatula from my dead, cold hands.
Is this why I always feel a slight sense of accomplishment when reheated leftovers taste particularly good?
Charles, you're just going to have to make room for a kitchen in your ideal small urban space.

You sound a little like those plutocrats who think the "free market" is a panacea for every social and economic can't just fix every problem with "the city."
I won't argue that there isn't a large measure of hypocrisy in the valorization of the "homemade" given the tremendous gulf that separates most of us from the actual production of our food. But to find no joy in the creative process of cooking, however mythical -- or to lack the empathy to understand the joy of others -- makes you a rather sad fellow, Charles. Or, perhaps, an economist.

Besides, where do you think all of the talented chefs we have in this city come from? Hatched from eggs at culinary academies?

We get it. Charles doesn't like to cook. Fine. Whether you're living in an urban or rural environment and whether you have a huge house or a studio apartment, the bottom line is it is cheaper and healthier to make more of your own food.

The business of restaurants is not to promote public, health, reduce waste, or make it easier on the working poor. Until it is, homes with kitchens it is. (and even beyond that, a lot of people ENJOY cooking, so there's that...)
Maybe "Dream Dinners" franchises have tried to bring the egg back into ready-made dinners by giving the consumer an opportunity to assemble the dinners himself/herself on site?

Fascinating thoughts, Charles. You jump-started my feeble brain this morning.

It would make more sense for you to turn over the boring business of writing to persons other than you, to persons who can actually think for a living.

But I doubt that we will be lucky enough to see that happen anytime soon.

Some people like to cook (or write) for the (masturbatory?) pleasure of it. Even if they suck at it. They even often go so far as to subject other people to their ill-conceived concoctions.
Ladies and gentlemen, greatest troll ever: Charles Mudede.
I get it already. You hate cooking. Duly noted. Now please stop trying to make me feel guilty about cooking my own damn meals, and I promise not to infringe on your right to stuff as much grease-addled restaurant food in your face as you could possibly want.
Charles, I think you need to just go ahead and live in your 50 square foot, no kitchen, no private idea of urban utopia and spare the rest of us the sermons on how we don't need private kitchens.
Meant to say "no private bath",.
Also Chuck,

Restaurants are wasters of resources and bad for the climate.

Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, tells NPR: "There's about a half-pound of food waste created per meal served. That's taking into account both back- and front-of-the-house waste. So restaurants and the customers are both joining forces to waste a whole lot of food." 15 percent of all the food that ends up in landfills comes from restaurants.

All that wasted food rots and becomes methane gas. Methane gas contributes to climate change.

Why do you hate the planet so much Chuck?
You really need to find something else to sermonize about, Mudede. Every time you float this idea, you're shot down. And not just by those who point out it's the height of hypocrisy for you to tell others how to live when you won't do it yourself.

Also, "you being the best thing you can be to you"? Were you already drunk at 8:30 in the morning?
eh, don't sweat it folks. chuckles will be dead of a heart attack before too long. eating out all the time will do that to you. so long, chuck!
Bullshit, Charles.

While yes, it is true that our city is blessed with a glut of fine cuisine, what you've entirely failed to realize is that a kitchen is a haven of personal creativity in the same way that musicians like to play and writers like to write and artists like to art, etc., etc. I'm a pathetic musician, my artistry skills are non-existent, and I mostly hate writing. But I cook, and do so with gusto. I seek out new recipes and ingredients and try new things. And my kitchen, like many in this city, has no counter space, has appliances that are older than the building they reside in, and is poorly-conceived in general. I also make no claims about the authenticity or nutrition of my food: my food is rarely authentic, and isn't always the most nutritious (though I try).

And you're complaining that because Betty fucking Crocker scientists decided that adding fresh eggs to cake mix by yourself constituted a greater psychological pleasure than the non-DIY alternative (in the culinary dark ages of the 1960's, no less), it represents our "fiction[al]" need to have some skin in the game, just for the sake of doing so. That's hardly a fair claim to those people, who, as children may have helped a parent add that one egg to the cake mix and eventually went on to start successful culinary careers, the ones you ask us to patronize without regard to our own needs or desires.

That's an outrageous insult to them - every journey starts with one step, you moron - and to all of us whose interest may range from passionate to occasional.

Bullshit, Charles. Bullshit.

The problem with American kitchen especially in small space is that most of them are too big. Most people don't need a 4 burner stove top and a big refrigerator. A two (or one burner) stove top, a convection oven and a small fridge can meet most people's everyday cooking needs.
@19, you are telling me that one kitchen cooking and storing food for 20 people is going to be more wasteful/less efficient than 20 separate kitchens for 20 people? How can you think yourself into such a corner?
I heard something on NPR a couple of days ago to the effect that, on average, about 10% of the food purchased and prepared for consumption (as opposed to normal waste "scraps") by commercial restaurants ends up in the dumpster. That's a HUGE waste of edible food, and certainly isn't the norm in MY kitchen.

Besides, cooking and eating what one cooks, is one of the greatest, simplest pleasures of living, especially when the fruits of ones efforts are shared with friends and family. I truly pity anyone who views cooking at home as an impediment or irrelevant to their lifestyle.
Given monthly rent of $1500 and a kitchen roughly 1/8 the size of my apartment, my kitchen costs me $6.25 a day, or about $2.08 per meal. Let's say I spend about $3.00 a meal (actually a bit high). Since I like to cook, I've acquired a lot of toys in my kitchen, but from experience I know I could survive with very little: a place setting, a frying pan, sauce pan, a knife, and a handful of cooking utensils. Over their lifetime, their cost probably amortizes out to less than $0.01 per meal. So my dollar cost of cooking a meal at home is roughly $5.09. Oh, and I almost always cook for my girlfriend, so really the cost is about $4.04.

There's also the time cost involved. Between shopping, cooking, and cleaning, a typical dinner probably takes about 60 to 90 minutes (and declining, as I become a better cook). However, I quite enjoy cooking - it's becoming something of a hobby. So I don't really see all of this as time lost. At most, I begrudge about 30 minutes of this.

So tell me, where can I find decent quality, healthy meals in 30 minutes for under $4.04 (including transportation and tip)?
So Charles, you're a Duncan Hines cake guy?
It is pure economics. Sure I could go out for breakfast and it would run me around $10 maybe 12. If I make my own breakfast, same ingredients, I am looking at maybe $2. Most people can't afford to eat out everyday, every meal. And a lot of people can't afford the luxury of eating out at all.
But where would I make pie?
Chuck @24

I cook for myself on a regular basis and I never create a 1/2 pound of waste per meal served. Usually I have no food waste. Sometimes some bones and an onion peel. But don't take my word for it, take it up with Jonathan Bloom & NPR.

Frankly though, since I cook at home, and you never do, I have a much better idea than you of what kind of waste a home kitchen creates. Also, having worked in food service, I've seen first-hand the volume of waste a commercial kitchen creates. Point of fact is that commercial kitchens do waste an embarrassing amount of food.
a marxist supporting the capitalists that want everyone to live in their overpriced boxes. sheesh.

I'd say so, because the level of acceptance for food that's slightly "off" (color, texture, whatever) is much lower in a restaurant than at home. Additionally, the restaurant scenario provides perverse incentives (larger servings of food with more salt and fat) to compete with other restaurants. Add to it the totality of labor costs (I can cook, eat, and clean up after myself + other people, while that would be require people at a restaurant) and you don't get the picture you are pushing.

Plus, you forget or willfully ignore the other things brought about by cooking at home. During the winter, running the stove cooks food for me and acts as a heater for my house. That heat would be produced to warm my house (and I usually keep it at what many would consider sweater/sweatshirt temperature inside), but serves a dual purpose when I can also use it to cook.

I eat out way too much, and am trying to correct that, because I see how big of a cost restaurant cooking imposes, both in financial and physical aspects. You might try switching your advocacy to apartment buildings with shared large format kitchens. It would make more sense than your current "nobody needs a kitchen" nonsense. Plus, it might keep you from posting urban legends:…
I find it interesting that the economic and medical reasons for cooking at home have been mentioned, but not really addressed in any meaningful way.

Cooking at home is considerably cheaper than eating out on an individual basis; one kitchen serving 20 people may be more "efficient" from a resource consumption standpoint, but if the would-be eater has to pay five times as much to participate in this, where's the benefit for the working individual or family?

Portion control; use of organic, whole foods; and long-term meal planning are all easier to facilitate when you have some control over meal production.

As I said on the micro-living thread, these ideas work well in a city--indeed, in a broader macro-society--that bears no resemblance to ours, one where these kitchen-less apartments cost less than their better equipped counterparts by a wide enough margin to make eating out for every meal a competitive option; where we have a single-payer health care system; where whole foods and healthy fats are the norm in every neighborhood restaurant; where gyms and public pools and theaters and cinemas and concert halls are open to the public at no charge, or available at prices competitive with cable and stereos and home theater systems (or, conversely, where incomes rose to give all citizens hundreds of dollars a month more in "disposable" income that allows them to participate in our culture); where the price of a scotch at the bar bears some proportional relationship to the price of a bottle of scotch, even at currently inflated rates, at the grocery store.

Truth be told, I might STILL have a kitchen in such a utopia, for all manner of personal and professional reasons. But I'd be more inclined under such circumstances to see it as a luxury. As it stands, I remain (barely) solvent and healthy precisely because of my kitchen.
You keep trying to win this argument, Charles, but you can't.
Restaurants are in the business of getting people to eat their food. They are not in the business of making healthy food (even if they advertise such). They compete by making food taste good and the cheapest and easiest way to do that is by adding fats, salts and sugars.
When I make food for myself, I *know* what ingredients go into my food . I can make food taste good with spices and such in place of extra fats, salts and sugars.
So yes, I do make food healthier than the food made by restaurants. And my family is healthier because of it.
And, BTW, if I make a cake, it's from scratch.
just last night while shopping.. ( don't tell me you haven't experienced the full urban joy of the beacon hill or 23rd and jackson red apples. filling up a cart while strolling to chaka khan, but then i shudder to ask what your take is on food shopping is ) i thought i could go buy a gucci sandwich ( i call em gucci sandwiches casue they're designer for sure and expensive as hell ) salumi sells a substantial roasted lamb sandwich for $9 and some change. i found an inexpensive leg of lamb for $4.99 - it was probably higher last week when everybody was cooking for family and company.. and no it'd cost more if it were locally sourced..but still belive me a roast for sandwiches has got to be the easiest think to cook. even you could do it.. slay, pepper, on the outside. 450 degrees for the first half hour, 325 degrees for about another hour. 15 minutes to let the meat rest and BOOM you got enough lamb to be sick of sandwches for what maybe 2 weeks. or say eggs. what they hit you when you're eating out $5 for a pair of em.. maybe more.try 3>99 for an organic dozen.. but yeah sure ,fuck a kitchen. you end up being your own worse punishment.
"People who live in the city do not really need a kitchen (or a big one). It would make more sense for us to turn over the boring business of the kitchen to places outside the house, to places run by those who can actually cook for a living. "

Cooking a simple dish, like lentil soup, rice and beans, a homemade pizza, or even a roast chicken, doesn't cost very much and requires relatively little effort. You're telling me that I should pay someone else anywhere from 3 to 20 times what it costs to make my own food every night? I eat out my fair share but this is ridiculous. I like to spend my money on other goods and services, too. And I'm someone who makes a relatively comfortable wage for my family situation. Try taking that case to people living in poverty.

Also, the juxtaposition of "Our kitchens, our cult of home cooking, and all of this moral-" and "People who live in the city do not really need a kitchen (or a big one)" made me laugh. What is this imperative, if not a (vaguely) moral one?
I wonder how much different this conversation would be if Charles recommended communal kitchens, perhaps on a dorm-floor, neighborhood association club house or flex-car model.

Eventually, we would run into the problem of Communism, where the group gets large enough that it quits being people you know with individual personalities and idiosyncrasies, and devolves into a bunch of assholes you want nothing to do with, but still, it's an interesting thought.
I'm guessing that Chuck's old lady must be a shitty cook.
Last June, I went to my cardiologist, and she told me that I could cut my risk of a heart attack in half if I lost 20 pounds and reduced my cholesterol levels. I changed the way I ate, primarily by doing two things: I cut out processed foods, and I reduced the frequency of eating out. My diet is now mostly fresh lean meat, fresh fruits and vegetables and lots of water. I rarely go out, and I almost never eat processed foods. I've lost 28 pounds that I would certainly gain back if I did what Charles advised, and ate all (or most) of my meals in restaurants.

Aside from the fact that it's cheaper to cook at home (as several sloogers have already noted), keep in mind, too, that it's cheaper in the long run for me to remain healthy than to spend days or weeks in a hospital CCU hooked up to machines and getting anti-coagulants in an IV drip. Since my health coverage is paid for, not just by me and my employer, but by everyone else in the insurance pool, it is to the advantage of the pool for me--and everyone else--to eat fewer meals in restaurants which, at both the high and the low end of the price scale, tend to deliver a lot more in the way of fats and salts than home-cooked meals using fresh, non-processed ingredients.

Plus--my husband and I both like to cook, thank you very much, and we're not giving that up in service of Charles' abstract fantasy of the common good.
I think Charles needs a visit from...
The Dinner Ninja!
Also, yeah, you are way, way off-base with this line of thought Charles. Cooking at home is simple, cheap, less-wasteful, more healthful and most importantly: family meals at home bring families together. Kind of important for a utopian urban commune. Remember, there's a reason all parties end up in the kitchen.

Don't forget one other factor: 20 homes with food in a crisis is FAR better than 1 commercial kitchen in that same crisis. Food security, mon ami. All the grocery stores & restaurants in any city have only about 3 days worth of food in them.
I like to keep a stocked larder and stay a few days ahead of that. You dig?
Where you see false authenticity, I see affordability and better nutrition management.

Your ideal of food preparation taking place entirely outside the home is a fiction of urban authenticity, if anything.
My name is Lut, my planet is Pluto, my business is Architecture.

When we built this multi-family complex, we made a big mistake, we lost money. We gave them small gardens and windows, we installed water, lighting and heating systems — this was a wrong concept. A man doesn’t need a home, all he needs is a shelter.

If we can sell him on the idea of a shelter, we can make millions. The worker will come here only to sleep. He won’t need electricity or water. He won’t have to cook. We’ll condition him to eat at the factory.
I do genuinely, authentically eat the things I cook, though. That part isn't illusory.

Not a word in either post or comments about the gender issues involved in home cooking, though? Bad form.
Wow. Bad thinking all the way around the track.

Home cooking is not less economical than eating in restaurants. The investment in kitchen space, appliances, energy, and food required to sustain a family is much less than the cost of feeding that family in restaurants.

Home cooking is not less ecologically sustainable than restaurants. That is primarily a function of personal choice and people can choose to be less wasteful.

Home cooking is a whole lot more convenient than eating out. I can get food at any hour even when I don't feel or look well enough to go out.

Home cooking is more versatile than eating in restaurants. Even in the city not every cuisine I might want is available.

Cooking is art. It can be high art or folk art. It is an art form that many people can practice. Shall none of us sing because there are professional singers who do it better? Should none of us dance when there are professional dancers. Should none of us draw? make music? write or tell stories? You're an ass, Charles if you don't recognize cooking as art and therefore an invaluable part of the human experience.

Finally, you seem to have forgotten the emotional elements of preparing food. To prepare food for others is an expression of love and hospitality in a way that purchasing food can never be.
@44 what gender issues are you referring ?
@46, Google it. And by "it" I mean "the question of whether the verb 'refer' is transitive or not."
#44, #46 - I was starting to wonder about that - like, maybe Mudede is so into everyone-should-eat-out because he is one of those guys with a complex about doing family cooking, feels guilty about the sexism he's buying into but doesn't want to suck it up and cook his own damn food. It is definitely a gender issue, but I don't think one can address the general inequality of home cooking by saying 'no one should cook at home!' Instead, young men should be encouraged to be more competent in the kitchen and take more control of what they eat, rather than expecting women to coddle them.
@47what gender issues are you fucking referring to ?
When I read remarks like Charles's on the ideal urban arrangement I'm always reminded of other half-baked "thinkers" -- generally they're about nineteen years old, they come from privileged families (at least, privileged in comparison with the majority of their neighbors), and they're just discovering Marx, or Rand, or Jung. So predictable. So tedious.
#49 - the part where cooking, like most routine household unpaid labor, is disproportionately done by women? Personally I started cooking all my family's meals when I was 13; I was the only woman in the household and it was therefore my responsibility, dontyouknow. Then as an adult, I lived in the South with my husband for four years, and found that many people I knew were surprised that I refused to do more than my share of our cooking. I know plenty of men who are reliable and excellent cooks, but the norm is very much about men relying on women to put in unpaid labor to feed them. Of course it's a gender issue.
It's only a gender issue if you make it one, or allow others to make it one for you.
In this household everyone learns to cook since we consider it a neccessary life skill. My spouse and I share the cooking and are both good cooks. There were times when one or the other did the majority of the cooking because of time or health issues.
OTOH, if one of us was substantially better at it than the other, then that person would probably do the majority of the cooking, but it wouldn't be gender based.

It's possible that neither Charles, nor his wife, cook and he's trying to find reasons not to learn how.
@51 ..thanks..
i've been shopping and cooking since i was ten that's almost 50 years from my single mother's kitchen to my own. both my brothers are the primary cooks in their households, my sister doesn't cook at all. except for baking holiday cookies, her daughter is trying to learn/ teach herself how. most men i know personally are home cooks and i'd guess more than half are the primary cooks in their homes, so i haven't personally observed the gender inequity you mention. i suspect that race and class play large roles in this, but without evidence or a conversation with people who see this from another angle, i can't say that i get it. but i'm interested , so maybe now i'll do some googling around. the subject.
An open letter to Charles Mudede,

You’ve been taking a lot of heat this week for both this post and for the post on micro-living. The way I see it, your posts have been so controversial, not because of the questions they raise, but for two other reasons: a pronounced tendency toward oversimplification, and a lack of control over tone.

Land use, housing costs, and development patterns are complex issues, each of which is complicated by the fact that a diverse community is, more or less by definition, prone to have diverse views and preferences in matters of personal interest, such as where and how to live, and whether a solution that is both practical and desirable for one group of people will be either practical or desirable for a second, third or fourth group.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with raising the question of whether current patterns of land use or housing development are wasteful. There is nothing wrong with urging people to give careful thought about how much space they really need for their daily lives. However, when you state categorically that “we should all see [micro-living]as the ideal,” and make moral pronouncements such as “The less private space you have means the more human you are,” you are not only oversimplifying very complex issues, but you are doing so in a way that is morally judgmental.

The problem is exacerbated when you move from the general to the specific, and make judgmental statements not only about broad patterns of living, but individual behaviors within that pattern. You might not like to cook, for example, but by dismissing cooking as a “boring business” that is best left up to “those who can actually cook,” you denigrate those of us who take understandable pleasure and often justifiable pride in an activity that is, for many people, their primary creative outlet. For some of those people, the “creativity” may be nothing more than adding an egg to a box of cake mix, but I am hardly alone in liking to make cakes from scratch, to experiment with recipes, and sometimes to actually create them.

If housing and sustainability are your concerns, then you should, by all means, seek out creative solutions to problems. Feel free to suggest that there should be more micro-housing to provide one alternative to some people. Feel free to suggest that a homeowner might give serious thought as to whether a $30,000 kitchen makeover is ecologically or economically justified; for some of us it might be, for others, not so much.

It is a mistake, however, to advocate any one-size-fits all solution to complex issues, and especially if you cannot do so without coming off as self-righteous and more than a little annoying.
"People who live in the city do not really need a kitchen (or a big one). It would make more sense for us to turn over the boring business of the kitchen to places outside the house, to places run by those who can actually cook for a living. "

My wife does actually cook for a living. Also, we live in a city. Do we get a pass?
I'd give up my bath/shower before my kitchen. Communal baths used to be routine in American cities and still are in some places around the world. Their tubs are roomier and they're probably better at scrubbing tiles than I am.

But then, I used to get paid for my cooking so perhaps I'm picky. I don't tend to go to restaurants because, except for specialized equipment, techniques, or ingredients, I can usually make food better than the restaurants I can afford for every day.
Fuck you, too Charles. My enjoyment of my hobby, my satisfaction at crafting a meal that is delicious, is not a fiction. Why is it just cooking that gets this hate? My neighbor loves to work on cars in his free time. Should he give up his lie and just leave it to the professionals, too? Should every person who never plans to publish stop keeping a journal? Should everyone in the city just hire maids instead of cleaning their own house? Your experience is not the universal one, and you should know better at your age. Any teen on reddit could publish bullshit absolutist opinions like this one. I can't believe you're paid for this.
@54, im not a civil engineer, im a writer. and what did stalin call writers? engineers of the human soul. stalin got that term from a brilliant silver age writer named yuri olesha. stalin eventually killed yuri's soul and decided to go directly to civil engineering before finishing the important work of human soul engineering. before the city of our dreams, the soul of our dreams. if all of this sounds like pure poetry to you, i recommend you do a close study or reading of bogota between the years 1993 and 2001. in that place and area of time, you will see the transition from one great mayor, mockus, to another, penalosa. in this mayoral transition (or movement), you will see exactly where im coming from.
Oh my God. I wish I lived in Seattle so I could be high all the time too.
I wish Mudede would answer Zuulabelle (#4). Among people I know, it's a quite thorough and devastating critique.

That said, I find it refreshing that Mudede is willing to argue the demolition of the status quo; never to do so--all to common--is reactionary and infantile.
Chuck @ 58


@7 Yep.…

Just like micro-living, no-kitchen living is an interesting thought experiment but wildly impractical/undesirable for most people.

However, I am interested in the concept of co-op living -- unrelated adults sharing a larger household -- like college student living, only for adults. I wonder why it doesn't happen more often, especially in times of economic downturn. Is it just that adults are all cranky control freaks who can't get along with others and need higher levels of privacy? Is it the logistical difficulty of maintaining a household of the appropriate size? The lack of suitable spaces available? Neighborhood regulations that discourage or forbid such living arrangements?
My husband and I cook a big dinner for our family and friends almost every weekend. Our children love it as it is a big and beloved part of their social life: maybe a recreation of extended family living in our lives where we are so displaced from our actual families. Unlike in a restaurant, the kids can run around and play and talk and watch movies for hours while adults have time to relax and enjoy conversation in a quiet and unhurried setting. There is no limit on the drinking of wine and that part alone is infinitely more economical than going out. Our friends are great cooks too and there is mutual appreciation of each other's skills and effort, something that is also so rare when our professions rarely intersect.