The Outsider: …but it was convenient

They may as well have pre-chewed it for me. That was how disgusted I was.

I could see on the packaging that the rack of lamb had been seasoned but it being the only rack of lamb available, and lamb being my lovely wife’s favourite, I figured I could live with that. It was when I opened the shrink-wrapped skin and the rack fell out in pieces: pre-cut chops. What? Why?

Oh, I was angry. Which idiot had decided that my rack of lamb, for which I had paid handsomely, needed slicing into chops before being packaged? Which dumb-but-undoubtedly-well-meaning jerk had felt that I might not be of sound enough brain or body to manage to cut up my own meat? Who, in their tiny non-culinary mind, wants to cook a rack of lamb as individual chops and allow all the wonderful just pink meat
to get overcooked and rubbery instead of being a tender medium rare?

I guess it was someone who thought that pre-cutting (and pre-seasoning for that matter) my meat would be convenient because we all like convenient, don’t we? Actually, no not all the time. Convenient is pay at the pump at the gas station. Convenient is ordering a movie on-line. Convenient could be letting grocery stores sell beer and wine (here’s hoping) but convenience in culinary terms is something that drives me crazy.

Shredded cheese, really? You’ll pay extra for cheese that has been grated, come on. And pre-sliced vegetables … surely there is time in your life to chop a carrot. A carrot that you picked up loose at the grocery store, or even better, grew yourself. But no, someone somewhere believes that we’d rather buy a bag of pre-sliced, washed in chlorinated (city) water, plastic packaged veggies. And, unfortunately, they are right because they can charge a premium for them.

Here’s the best, or worst: pre-cooked bacon … yes, it’s a thing. They sell it here in Haliburton, honest. When I saw it, I was dumbfounded. Why would anyone in their right mind buy bacon that was already cooked, then not eaten but allowed to go cold and then put in a bag and a box to be resold? Buying precooked bacon takes all the fun out of it. It’s like being awarded the Stanley Cup without playing hockey; like having your picture taken with a trophy fish that was caught by someone else. It’s convenient and it may even look good but there’s no sense of achievement, no wonderful aroma of frying bacon, no glow of pride as the crispy rashers are forked out of the frying pan, no tasty bacon fat to cook your egg in. You’ve got limp, re-heated-ping-of-the-microwave, convenient bacon. Whoopee.

Convenience is good in many parts of our lives. Milk in a carton rather than a cow is good. Intelligent all-wheel drive rather than a horse and buggy, now that’s convenient. But when I’m cooking, when I’m in the midst of my ‘culinary play-off games’, I don’t want convenient, I want tasty, time consuming triumph. So don’t ever think it’s a good idea to pre-cut my lamb.

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