ANYONE can cook!

Before getting into this week’s article, this BLOG column will be moving from Blogharbor to Pressharbor. The same hosting service will be hosting it, but they are updating to a more convenient format using Word Press. I’m all in favor of the change!

It’s going to be a gradual transition over several months—beginning now and going through next October. Regular readers will not have to do anything. The hosting service will take care of all redirection functions. It will be automatic.

At any rate, NOTHING will happen until my hosting service has successfully transitioned EVERYTHING to the new format. I’ll keep you informed on a weekly basis. Now, on to the topic at hand.

People—and I mean LOTS of them—think that I’m a pretty good cook. I can’t cook worth a hoot, actually; but I know how to use a microwave and I’m a whiz at reading directions.

“Remove the external plastic wrap, place in microwave for 7½-minutes, and let stand for 2-minutes before serving” has nothing to do with knowing how to cook; it’s simply about knowing how to read directions.

Successfully FOLLOWING microwave directions and then making food look attractive by placing it on nice chinaware along with a sprig or two of parsley isn’t cooking either; it’s merely attractive presentation.

When I was a 15-year-old teenager—I’m 71 now—a MAN who couldn’t cook was screwed… and I don’t mean it in the carnal sense of the word, either. If he didn’t know anyone (defined as a “woman”) who was willing to cook for him and he couldn’t afford daily trips to restaurants, he starved to death.

I distinctly remember this happening to old man Dwyer who lived 5-doors up the street from me back in the 50s. He was ELDERLY and lived alone—late 40s I believed.

Undoubtedly, given my current age, “late 40s” is NO LONGER elderly! But, to us 15-year-olds of the 50s—and even the 15-year-olds of today—40 was, and still is, almost DEAD.

Anyway, his mail and newspapers piled up big time and no one had seen him in almost 3-weeks. So, his next-door neighbor called the police who found him dead in his living room.

Oh sure, they also found him surrounded by empty gin bottles. And, yes, there was a rumor that when the medical examiner accidentally dropped his liver during the autopsy, it cracked the floor tiles.

Also, while I don’t want to understate the medical examiner’s official autopsy report, you’ll have to excuse me because I can’t remember ALL the specific medical terms—I’m not a medical doctor and this was a long time ago.

As best I can recall, the official cause of death was… “something something liver, something acute kidney, something something something renal, something failure.” But, there was nothing specific about not being able to cook.

Now, even though the medical examiner FAILED to mention, “not being able to cook” as an “official” cause of death, I knew that it had to be a MAJOR underlying cause.

He couldn’t cook! He was slowly starving to death. The pain had to be excruciating. It was pure deductive reasoning: he drank to ease the pain! The ONLY logical reason he died was that the man didn’t have a clue when it came to cooking.

For God’s sake, people, microwavable food did NOT exist at that time—not even popcorn—mainly because there were no consumer microwave OVENS! And, don’t even go there; I already know what you’re thinking: TV dinners!

I categorically refuse to count the fact that TV dinners were in ample supply back then. First, men—especially older men—had to know how to get the aluminum foil off those containers.

AND, even if they could accomplish THAT feat, they had to know: one, what a stove was, two, where it was located, and three, how to use it. For most men in those days, knowing these things was not exactly a foregone conclusion! My own father was a prime example.

He couldn’t boil water. The only reason he even knew how to FIND the kitchen was because that’s where my mother put his beer. He knew it was inside of some sort of white thing that kept stuff cold and whenever he opened its door—even in the dark—a light came on so he could clearly see the beer bottles.

Conversely, my mother was an excellent cook. She could combine ingredients that none of us could pronounce into meals we couldn’t wait to enjoy. She was especially adept at masking stuff I couldn’t stand so I couldn’t recognize it; and then giving it names I couldn’t pronounce. I couldn’t get enough of it!

But, unfortunately, she NEVER threw ANYTHING away because she could use it for either soup or some kind of stew later on, sometimes, MUCH later on.

I remember some of that soup and all of those stews. I hated ALL of it. But I had to eat it because, if I didn’t, it was a long time until breakfast. Those soups and stews were the primary motivators behind me cultivating a taste for cardboard.

And, looking back to those days… honestly, to a starving teenager trying to go to sleep late at night, cardboard didn’t taste THAT bad. In fact, the taste was similar to what McDonalds’s food tastes like today, only less filling.

The only thing that gives today’s McDonalds a culinary edge over my old cardboard food substitute is ketchup. I didn’t have ketchup for my cardboard!

I’m not going to suffer the same fate as old Mr. Dwyer! I have a microwave and I know how to read directions. But, admittedly, I do experience a twinge of guilt whenever I take credit for any perceived culinary expertise.

Visit any grocery store. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything in the refrigerated/frozen food sections that a MAN could NOT “cook” in a microwave as long as he can read simple directions and knows how to operate a microwave timer.

Never again need a man starve to death. Then again, maybe not! “Simple” is a relative term.

The other day—I don’t know why I did it because I hate the stuff—I took a trip down the cereal aisle, where I found the “Pop Tarts.” Did you know that they have “cooking” instructions on the sides of the boxes? Well, they do!

Here they are. First: “Remove contents from paper pouch.” Second: “Place in toaster or toaster oven.” Third: “Do not over heat.”

The fact that these instructions are there does not upset me. But, ladies, if you meet a guy who NEEDS these instructions or, even worse, does not UNDERSTAND them, RUN away quickly!

Let Darwin handle the situation. In the interests of humanity, some people, but mostly MEN—younger or older—should perhaps starve to death.

Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.

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