By accident--this is, after all, the Accidental Blogger--two stories from major news outlets came my way, both in relevant part pertaining to domestic amenities, kitchen conveniences in particular. I don't often read the real estate or dining pages. Now I'm reminded why.
With rare exceptions, I can't stomach food writing. A story in yesterday's New York Times (beware the paywall) is a perfect example of putrid journalism parading as insightful, novel human interest. Essentially, two pages of precious web journalism copy space are occupied by fluff about Indian cookery. Don't get me wrong. I love tandoori cooking, which I first learned about in, oh, around 1986 (India's Oven, Los Angeles). This story finds interesting the fact that some guy, who now runs a business manufacturing tandoor ovens for home use, hadn't heard about it until...1986. That's 25 years ago. We learn that Madhur Jaffrey, whom I first heard about in, I dunno, the '90s, maybe, heard about it only as recently as 1947. How is this news? Or even interesting?
The tandoor may have originated in Rajasthan, India, where archeologists have found tandoor remains dating from 2600 B.C. — about the same time as the pyramids. The first tandoors were used to bake flatbread, a tradition that survives in Indian roti, Afghan naan and Turkmen chorek.
Visit a bakery on the teeming Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi — or any Indian restaurant, for that matter — and you will see fresh naan being made to order. Soft white balls of yeasted dough are rolled into flat cakes, which are draped over a round cloth pillow called a gadhi and pressed onto the hot inner walls of the tandoor, where they puff, blister and brown in minutes.
The searing heat and smoke, and moisture-retaining properties of the tandoor, make it equally effective for roasting meat on vertical skewers, a delicacy mentioned by the Indian surgeon Sushruta as early as the eighth century B.C. Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal, held the tandoor in such high esteem he had a portable metal model constructed to take on his travels.
In spite of its ancient origins and utter simplicity, the tandoor produces startlingly sophisticated results, including smoky flatbreads that puff like pillows, and roasted meats of uncommon succulence.
And what is this baloney? "In spite of its ancient origins and utter simplicity, the tandoor produces startlingly sophisticated results, including smoky flatbreads that puff like pillows, and roasted meats of uncommon succulence." Such condescension to those dumb, unsophisticated ancient originals! "Uncommon succulence" sounds downright dirty.
So the core of the story is: some ceramics guy in Florida was approached by some NY Indian restaurant owner who wanted a homemade tandoor. Floridan made it and parlayed his success into a business. Now he knows more about tandoors than your average diner at an Indian restaurant. And now he sells a unit for home use. Ah, American ingenuity!
Then there's this Houston Chronicle piece about homebuilding and "diversity."
Ramesh Bhutada didn't plan on moving. However, when his son married a few years ago, he knew the growing family needed more space to keep living together.
He bought a 5,000 square-foot house in Sugar Land with a second master bedroom upstairs for the newly wed couple, an option the builder, Perry Homes, offered.
"We knew they would want their privacy, and this way we can still enjoy living together," said Bhutada, whose family is among South Asian buyers requesting additional master bedrooms. "Our grandchild is on the way at anytime now, so it will be a lot of fun for us as grandparents to have a little kid around."
Carrying over a tradition from their native countries, some South Asian children live with their parents until they marry and then often live with the groom's parents after marriage.
In the Houston area, such cultural norms have builders responding to the region's diversity by incorporating special design demands into homes. Aside from extra bedrooms, they're adding secondary kitchens and prayer rooms that appeal to South Asians and courtyards popular with Hispanic buyers.
The changes haven't yet become a common part of most standard home plans, but more builders are accommodating well-heeled buyers who ask for such features.
So, South Asian families are demanding additional master bedrooms in the homes of the parents of newlywed grooms, into which the married youngsters can move. On the one hand, and despite my disdain for the awful convention we call family, I do believe families should live together in extended configurations. (My wife and I are raising two kids, one a newborn, with no family nearby to help.) So, I think there's nothing weird at all about the newlyweds moving upstairs. On the other hand, I myself find home ownership unheimlich, disturbing. My preference would be for widespread communal living and widely shared responsibility for raising kids. (This in no way reflects the opinions of my wife and two children.)
The article goes on to describe a vile status-seeking development in home design around the kitchen, ostensibly one respecting "diverse" needs of other cultures, the construction of two kitchens, one for show, the other for the "dirty" work of cooking. The show kitchen feature is, to me, pure capitalist cancer. I wish food poisoning on those who demand them. I don't think there's anything wrong with using multiple spaces to prepare meals (or, say, to brew beer), but installing a kitchen as an ornament is obnoxious.
I dunno. Maybe one day soon slow news days, like slow cooking, will be all the rage.