Food processors are a saving grace. Immersion blenders are oh-so-very handy. And we love our shiny and robust standing mixer so much that it's practically another member of the family.
No doubt about it, these electronic gadgets have revolutionized home cooking. Julia Child, our guru and patron saint, was actually one of the first cooks to recognize the usefulness of all these new appliances in helping the home cook. With a wave of her whisk, she proclaimed the use of appliances to be a perfectly legitimate part of cooking.
But sometimes we think we might be missing something...(Sorry, Julia)
Whisking egg whites in a quiet kitchen, kneading bread on a floury counter top, grinding pesto in a mortar and pestle--Sure, it takes more time and it can get pretty messy. But you also start to develop a different relationship with what you're making and the ingredients you're using.
When you're working by hand, there's more control over each step. You can see for yourself exactly when the egg whites reach a stiff peak and feel when the bread has developed enough gluten. You're a part of the entire process from start to finish, and that creates a certain satisfaction that we feel is different than when we've zipped it together in a mixer.
You also notice different smells and textures. You see how the food changes with each new step. Time slows down and you learn new things about what you're cooking. Plus, it's fun!
Julia Child saw appliances as a time saver and a way to show the folks at home that cooking didn't have to be fussy or messy. And trust us, we won't be parting with our standing mixer any time soon!
But still, we think there's something to be said for doing it the old way! The long way. By hand.
What do you think?
(Photo Credit: Witigonen via Flickr Creative Commons)