It's historically really really new for every individual to be cooking for themselves. Most cultures, most of the time, would have had extended families living in one compound, and a division of labour such that some people would spend the whole day cooking, while other people would do other kinds of work. Working all day and then cooking all your own meals is basically doing a double shift. Any other time/place, you'd have been cooking for a *bunch* of people, or not cooking at all.
Even post-industrial revolution, people who worked in cities like London would have lived in boarding houses where food was provided by the owner. If you rented rooms, they probably wouldn't have a kitchen - you'd get streetfood, which was cheap and everywhere. In Australia, streetfood isn't a quick cheap breakfast on the way to work, it's prestige food that's just as expensive as eating in a restaurant.
And speaking of eating in restaurants, we don't really have anything like a food hall, with cheap basic meals, which heaps of countries have. In theory, this should be easy: it's much cheaper and more efficient to shop and cook for 1000 people in a commercial kitchen with bulk ingredients than it is to cook in 1000 separate kitchens and buy individual servings of ingredients. (This isn't an attack on restaurant prices - most restaurants are losing money. It's an attack on the whole set-up of everything.)
Anyway, cooking should go back to being like carpentry: a fun hobby for some people, but no one expects everybody to build all their own bookcases from scratch.
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #54 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!
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