My grandmother was a 1950s cook: She loved convenience foods. Canned, frozen, dried, jarred–she liked them all. I look at a lot of recipes from the 1950s and ’60s–the era of Lipton’s Famous California Dip, as Lipton now describes it–and I see that so many of them use packaged foods. It’s not a trend that has faded, either, as the Pillsbury Bake-off and the success of the Cake Doctor book demonstrate. Heck, these days you can buy bags of mashed potatoes at the supermarket.
I draw the line at that, but I use my share of convenience foods. There’s nothing like coming home from a long day and opening a jar of marinara sauce rather than spending two days (because it should cool overnight) making my own. Mine might be better, but Trader Joe’s is a whole lot faster.
The variety of ways in which you can add flavor without hours of work is astonishing.
For instance, last night I had a call from a friend about Passover. She intends to host a Passover seder–but most of her guests will, as it happens, be gentiles. She remembers lo-o-ong, tedious seders from her childhood, during which she often fell asleep at the table somewhere around 3:00 a.m., still waiting for the main course to be served. She wants her seder to be fun.She’s talking about making wine charms of the 10 plagues (yeah, right–do I want a charm on my wine glass of lice? Fleas? Blood? um…no!). She’s looking for ideas. She consulted her friends the party know-it-alls. So today I went on a search, and I found this.
How could I resist this slogan? “Everything Should Taste Like Bacon.” On a site about celebrating Passover? Bacon-flavored salt. Every vegetarian I know says wistfully that the one thing he or she really misses is bacon. (That and, perhaps, blue cheese.)
I think this product combines the best features of convenience (no spattering grease) and virtue (no affront to one’s vegetarian tenets). Plus there’s something even more outrageous about serving a bacon-flavored appetizer at a Passover seder than there is about a centerpiece of Moses parting the Red Sea. I think we’ll have both.