Technology in the Kitchen

I feel that sometimes we forget that certain foods rely upon modern technology. With some foods that can be rather obvious. After all, modern technology gave us TV dinners and other frozen foods. I am talking about foods that have existed for a long time but have become more commonplace because of modern technology. Any pie that requires meringue or any meal that needs egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. Any cream cheese mixture that requires softening cream cheese. Any dessert that needs to you to cream sugar. All of these tasks were possible in years past but were absolute pains to do. Thus, some of our favorite desserts today, from cheesecake to lemon meringue pie, are more common today because of modern technology. Trust me, trying to beat cream cheese without a hand mixer is a pain. I have tried. Yeah…. not fun at all. I have also tried to cream sugar by hand. Yeah, I am just going to melt the butter in that case.

You may be wondering why on earth anyone would try do those things by hand. Long story short, while I have a hand mixer, it does not have the whisk attachments. For some reason I have corkscrew style attachments. I think that they are meant to be used for mixing bread but I am not sure as I have not tried using them for that. I did try using those attachments for mixing cream cheese but I failed. Or they failed. I am not really sure. Regardless, I decided to just do it by hand. Thankfully, I was mixing the cream cheese with sweetened condensed milk and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice and vanilla extract. I was making the Martha Stewart recipe for cheesecake filling. All of those liquid ingredients made my life easier. Although I am pretty sure that was why my recipe was a bit runny for a while. Oh well. So anyway, I have tried making certain foods by hands and again, an electric hand mixer makes life so much easier.

But what if you don’t have one? That is what people lacked 100 years ago, which I feel like I need to remind myself was only 1920, not the 1800s. Yeah that feels weird but I digress. So people 100 years ago and maybe even 50 years ago would have had to deal with the possibility of not having the technology to make these things easier. Now I admit that I am not really sure how common or uncommon having any sort of electronic mixer would have been during the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. So what does that mean then in the scheme of things. You definitely had to have a lot of upper body strength to mix that stuff, especially any kind of thick batter. If you didn’t have a lot of strength, you would have a hard time making certain foods or desserts. Thus, you would have fewer people who could make those foods. I would guess that those kinds of foods would have had a higher price as a result. Bread is a great example.

Today, a person can buy a loaf of bread for relatively cheap. The better quality bread costs a bit more. However, if you have the ingredients, the know-how, and the ability, you can make really nice bread. Again, having bread often depends on your ability to knead the bread or having a machine that can do the job for you. Still, the fancier/nicer the bread, the more it costs. So certain foods rely upon the ability of a person to make them. They aren’t impossible to make but they can be much more difficult or time intensive when modern technology is not available. Gelatin is another example. Regardless, it can be interesting to consider the foods that we enjoy simply because we have the technology to make them more accessible to the average person. What foods do you enjoy making but would be reluctant to make if you didn’t have a particular machinery? Toast? Cheesecake? I am curious to see your answers. Please answer below with your comments and thanks for reading.

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