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"We're HomeMade snobs now."

Home is where many of us take refuge from industrialized society to 'make it ourselves.' HomeMade, to my mind, means better if a little weird. HomeMade stuff lacks the uniformity we've all grown to expect and have been taught to use in lieu of judgement to determine quality. A lopsided cake might well taste better and even prove healthier than any store-bought alternative, but it still looks not quite right. The HomeMade chicken plucker pictured above probably works every bit as well as an expensive stainless steel job built in some factory, but it looks just a little bit (or, maybe a lot bit) cheap. The subtle and insistent indoctrination accompanying advertising might be the most insidious factor of living in a mass-production culture. Taken to ridiculous extremes, we might find ourselves trying to reproduce mass produced products at home, creating truly terrible HomeMade Snickers® bars or horrible handcrafted potato chips. Home can serve as a refuge from this absurdity, though HomeMade sometimes looks simply absurd.

The Muse and I keep our efforts focused upon more traditional items.
She home-makes holiday breads different from and far superior to anything any store sells. She also makes her own yoghurt, jam, roasted tomato, canned tomato, and quilts. I mostly make supper, but rarely opening cans to accomplish that end. She's even sometimes up for creating some mechanical something by hand, a bridge too far for me. We do not yet make our own soap, cosmetics, weed killer, or whiskey, though we could. We do not pluck our own chickens, either, though The Muse's mom taught her how to pluck chickens as a child. My dad was mechanically all-thumbs, able to produce Dr. Seuss-quality constructions that absolutely reeked of their homemade-ishness. I can reliably reproduce his constructions. My mom saved up bacon grease to make lye soap, which she'd hand grind into some semblance of flakes and use in her wringer washer. She claimed that her HomeMade stuff was far superior to anything commercially available.

I am a grandchild of the Industrial Revolution, the first generation subjected to advertising targeted to shape my sensibilities in the direction of the store bought. In my youth, I ate Swanson TV Dinners® on a TV tray before the television and felt rather sophisticated for the experience. I was, after all, living the good life depicted before me. I disdained HomeMade as strange, preferring the stuff the Industrial Food Machine had told me to prefer and feeling just a tad too peasant when presented with recipes passed down through successive generations from before industrial designers had imagined proper color, texture, seasoning, and scent. I'd today humiliate myself for a serving of our long departed family friend Ora's HomeMade clam fritters, which I then considered deplorable for their rough appearance.

We are a society of public snobs, expecting fine finishes when rough might serve us better. I'm outgrowing the need to buy anything sealed in packaging, preferring fresh components over pre-chewed finished goods. In the supermarket, I shop the perimeter, rarely venturing into the frozen food or canned good aisles. Supermarket bread sure looks great on the shelf because it was baked to look good on the shelf. Aren't taste and texture more important qualities? Our concoctions are unique, an attribute I used to revile but have grown to revere. I would no more open a jar of store bought "spaghetti sauce" than I would open a can of cat food for supper. I can bake my own beans and do not know what to do with most frozen vegetables, which have had their texture and color blanched out of them before being vacuum sealed for shipment from Lord knows where but doesn't care anymore. We make our suppers at home rather than rely upon some overly friendly Chef Boy-Ar-Dee to concoct them for us. Our larder groans beneath the weight of jars filled with HomeMade everything, some of which I sure wish I would have remembered to label before lining up on the shelf. We're HomeMade snobs now.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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