Last night we had burgers. Nothing fancy about them at all, no gadgetary magic or exotic ingredients to make them blogworthy. What did make them very very pleasurable to eat, though, was the 20 minutes or so that I spent really actually making them. From scratch. I took a package of local, grass-fed stew meat, trimmed a few tough spots, and fed it into the Kitchen Aid grinder attachment along with a fistful each of parsley and arugula, a minced clove of garlic, a good-sized piece of smoked ham fat cut into chunks, and salt and pepper. I fed them all through the large die, and then the small, and then shaped them into patties. Cooked them. Served them on whole wheat buns with homegrown tomatoes and homegrown and fermented cucumber pickles. Steamed broccoli and sautéed zucchini, also from the garden, on the side. Seriously: 20 minutes, including cleaning out the meat grinder parts before everything got all hard and icky.
Why write about such a meal? I wasn’t going to, believe me. But by complete coincidence, earlier in the day I happened to be in a local chain drugstore (don’t ask) when, in the course of my hapless, panicked, Kafkaesque wanderings though the maze of aisles, I stumbled upon the following product on a shelf:
I know, right? It’s the appliance you’ve been waiting for! It’s a dedicated, electric, nonstick, one-burger-at-a-time skillet to take the risk and danger out of preparing the precarious, complex high-wire act that is the modern hamburger. No longer do you need your very own team of Nobel laureates to look over your shoulder, clipboards and sensitive instruments clutched nervously in hand, while you perform the delicate surgical task that is cooking disks of ground cow meat in a pan over a heat source! Buy just a few more and you can even cook for your whole family at the same time! Even in multiples, these cost significantly less than the particle accelerator, gas chromatograph, and portable MRI you used to use to determine when the meat was cooked properly. It is thus that Science™, synergizing proactively with those geniuses down the hall in Marketing©, toils tirelessly to make your life a better place for them to be.
Is this where we have arrived as a society? What’s next, special non-skid booties so you don’t accidentally slip and boil your face while attempting to cook corn on the cob? Microwaveable toast singles with a built-in layer of thermo-release butter pustules? A safety orange kitchen helmet with cup holders, reflectors, and a flashing light on top that beeps when you back up?
Can you imagine the meetings that went into the production of this piece of idiocy?
“Well, our research shows that people are having a hard time cooking hamburgers without poking their eyes out–either accidentally, or in frustration at the difficulty of the process.”
“So in one case, it’s a poke, but in the other, it’s really more of a desperate, agonized clawing?”
“Yup. And so we’ve created a special tool–like a skillet, but only useful for this one specialized task. It has a grease moat, so we can make health claims, and yet it’s so completely covered with Teflon that you you can clean it just by yelling at it. Plus, those people in the burger-challenged demographic who happen to fall outside of the sullen, shut-in loner demographic will need to purchase multiple units in order to cook for the others in their household. Also, we’re pretty sure you can use this to make meth in prison.”
“I love it! Now go wax my plane.”
Look. I’m a lazy guy. The idea of a kitchen tool that can be cleaned just by putting it on the floor and having a pet lick it shiny is certainly appealing. And this was, after all, in a drugstore. (There was no price on the box or the shelf). But in this small town, the drug and hardware stores carry all kinds of housewarey stuff because the big stores are 10 or so miles down the road. And I’ll bet those big stores carry this exact same thing, or something even stupider. The fact that such a moronic piece of horseshit got greenlit and manufactured (and, presumably, purchased) speaks volumes about how vast the chasm is between where we are and where we need to be when it comes to the nature and place of food in our lives. This is exactly the sort of thing Nero would have been playing with while Rome burned, if he’d had one.
Also, how dumb is it that they don’t have a little skinny one for hot dogs? Maybe even a double-barreled number? That’d be sweet.
They do! I just got this picture from “an alert reader.” Two horsemen down, two to go.