I was chatting to a student yesterday who introduced me to the concept of buying ready-done pancake mix. I found this funny and curious – to me, it seems strange to buy this rather than the easy and cheap task of mixing the few ingredients. But it got me thinking – what does this say about our culture, if anything?
I’ve had a few thoughts which I haven’t had time to develop:
– This could be considered iconic of where we are in the West. Instead of pancakes signifying using up even basic ingredients so that one can fast and concentrate on God, they’re now a commodity for the consumer. I hardly ever fast myself, and I don’t offer this as a criticism, really – I just think it’s an interesting example of where our society is.
– I also find myself thinking about the distancing of people from food ingredients. This student says he doesn’t really know how to cook – he’d have to phone his parents for a recipe. And anyway, he doesn’t buy milk, eggs, flour as part of his diet – pancakes and their ingredients really are an oddity to him; he has to buy them specially, so why not the ready-made mix?
I see this as the second stage in a distancing from ingredients:
* The first stage is our modern distancing from how ingredients are produced. I’m not used to killing animals, or seeing them killed; I’m not used to the processes of sowing, harvesting and processing.
* The second stage is a distancing from the ingredients themselves. What are pancakes made of? No idea, I’ll buy the mix ready-done. How is bread made? No idea, I’ll buy a loaf. How do you make a curry? No need to know – I’ll get a ready-meal. This stage is less-developed in me and many people, but it exists. Will we just eat flavoured lozenges in 3000AD?
– On the other hand, hey, don’t you wish you could make perfect pancakes? With a hint of blueberry? Let’s get down to Tescos for some ready-made mix…