, ,


Let’s put aside the method by which microwaves work. Exciting molecules in a product and creating internal friction that drives moisture out of food does not sit well with my training. I guess, to some degree, I am just a bit old fashion. Anyway, I might be one of the diminishing 10% of the American population that does not own a microwave. They have been around for 33 years now and have become as commonplace in our homes as a telephone (oops, telephones are almost gone), correction: cellphone.

Here are the reasons that I am opposed to these units in the home or even in a professional kitchen:

1. There is no real substitute for the contact that food has with a flame. Again, this is maybe a personal opinion, but I know that most chefs would agree that the Maillard Reaction (the browning of sugars present in proteins that accentuate color, intensify wonderful flavors and create each products unique cooking aroma) is an essential part of making food enjoyable to look at, smell and taste. Now I know that some will argue that this is a process of molecular change just as microwave cooking is a molecular change process: but, it is different.
2. What is most significant to me is the change in family culture that microwaves brought about. These marvels of technology have had a dramatic impact on how families treat each other, the activity of bonding around cooking that was always the norm in American homes, and how we view our priorities.

Microwaves are too easy. Thus, in a very short period of time (33 years) our homes have been transformed from wonderful places where the family worked on meals together, spent time selecting the freshest ingredients at their local store, studied cookbooks and passed down traditional recipes from generations past, experienced the wonderful aromas of food being prepared, sat down together and enjoyed not only the meal, but each other’s company – to a place where individuals pass through on their way to something deemed more important.

The “family table” was where we learned about each other’s day, the great experiences and challenges that we faced, laughed and cried and truly enjoyed the whole concept of being together. We broke bread together that was made by someone who cared about how it looked and tasted and how you perceived it.

Microwaves have encouraged independence and a life on the run. The hour-long dinner with family quickly became the grab and go individual meal that each person “warmed up” when they felt the urge. Having taught culinary students for decades I was always amazed to discover how many NEVER ate together as a family. When asked what was the best thing that their parents or single parent made, it was likely to be “a reservation” or a frozen convenience item that was never touched by a human being before it was transferred to a plate.

I have long theorized that many of our problems result from a lack of time spent together in the kitchen or at the dinner table. Being “family” means sharing and the dinner table is the best opportunity for this to happen.

I do not, never have and never will own a microwave oven. If any one ever bought one for me I would give it away instantly. To me it is a device that is a root cause of many of our societal issues. I may be stubborn, or old fashion, maybe in this case I will admit that I have a closed mind, but it is one of those stakes in the ground that is part of my belief structure.

Ironically, the most significant health issues that we have in our country are related to what and how we eat. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers relate back to food. Convenience is a slippery slope when it comes to health and family. If you want to take a fresh, New Year’s resolution step in the right direction then package up your microwave, store it in the basement, open up a cookbook, shop in the fresh food isle and start cooking for your family again. It will make a difference.

Food is the universal language, make it speak well of you.

Harvest America Ventures, LLC