When I first moved into my house. There was an elderly lady who lived next door. She and her husband actually owned the house but never lived in it. They rented it out. Then her husband died, so she sold their residence. And she was just sort of living there temporarily I guess until she figured out her next move.
She was very friendly, but odd. Everyday when I got home, she would tell me what she ate. Which was always frozen food. Then she would go off on these long things about how nice frozen food is, and which frozen food she wanted to try next, and how I should go out and try some brand's lasagana.
Sometimes, I'd get home and she would say "Oh dear. You look a little peaked. Come on in and rest for a bit." And she would insist on serving me a frozen food dinner, which to me was odd because she was a traditional Southern sort who I figured would insist on lavishly made comfort food and look down on such things. But nope, she'd hand me like a Lean Cuisine Spaghetti with no trace of embarrassment whatsoever. And discuss it in intimidate detail. "What do you think? I like it, but to be honest it's still a bit chewy. The pasta doesn't come out quite right. Have you tried this new Michelina's brand? They have a chicken pot pie that is fabulous!"
Anyway, today I was on my way to work and I stopped by the fancy new grocery store to pick up frozen food for lunch. They had this big, shiny, cool, freezer display. And inside the freezer were dozens of brands of frozen food. In really pretty packaging. They all looked delicious. And there were some that were even not total sodium death bombs and semi-healthy or at least not too terribly unhealthy. And they had Thai stuff, Indian, Mexican, all kinds of things I'd never seen frozen, some that I'd never eaten before frozen or not. All stacked up and looking so neat and organized. It was all so... clean and convenient.
I was thinking like Man, I remember when the frozen food section was just like a couple of boxes of Swanson Hungry Man. It was always the same: fried chicken or meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas. They looked garish and horrible on the box. And you had bake them in the oven. And sure enough, the mashed potatoes were phony and the peas were mushed, and the chicken tasted like wood.
I just got kind of lost, marveling at how far frozen food had come. And how really, I could just eat it every day. Then I saw some 25 year old giving me a funny look, and I realized I had spaced out and been just standing there looking at frozen food for like, 5 minutes.
Then I thought, if I think frozen food has changed a lot in my life... imagine if I could remember when before Microwaves exited, but there wasn't even Hungry Man TV dinner. No big box grocery stores. Not even a lot of the canned stuff we have now or like frozen peas that don't even count as frozen food.
Every day, I would get up. And go to the butchers to get meat. And then to the grocer to buy vegetables and fruits.
Then every afternoon, I'd make a steak. Mostly. But if money was tight I might make a meatloaf, or casserole. Every day. Cook all that stuff. 45 minutes, maybe. And then shuck some corn and boil it. Or mash up some potatoes as a side. Then make gravy. Another 20 minutes. Every few days, bake a pie. That's like a solid 2 hours of cooking.
And then let's say I had a husband who was sexist. Not in a bad way, really. Just a guy who has never cooked in his life. Has no idea how to make anything and is too old to learn. He can't really even like, wrap his head around cooking because that's not something he's supposed to do. If he cooks, he's a failure because he's like a woman. And maybe being a woman isn't a bad thing... but he's a man. He goes out and wins bread. His wife feeds him. Those are the roles that are supposed to be played.
If the roles are changed, something failed, and as the man, that failure is his. He eats steak, meatloaf, and casseroles (if he has to). It's what he does. And his wife makes them, because that's what she does. And for his own wife's good he won't allow her to make frozen food, just like he'd want his wife to say something if he stopped working 50 hours at the plant to feed the kids. You gotta work.
So... even after microwaves are invented, and frozen food, and reliable freezers exist, you still make a big meal from scratch every day. Because your husband doesn't get it. And when your kids come home from college or to visit, the one thing they want is a big, home, mom-cooked meal. And you want to give it to them, because you feel like your husband is kinda right. That's your role in life and you should accept it and work hard at it.
And then, one day your husband dies. And you are old so you rarely eat very much. If you made a big meatloaf, it'd mostly be wasted. So, you go to the frozen food section. And you see... not what I saw today... but still comparatively a decent amount of frozen foods. And you buy one. Shove it in the microwave. It cooks in FIVE MINUTES. And you're done. You don't even have to wash a plate.
I think I might cry. Tears of joy. Tears of sadness. Maybe tears of rage, too. But one thing is for sure. I would tell every goddamn person I met about the miracle of frozen food.
So I bought my frozen food, and took it to work. I microwaved it for lunch. My co-worker popped into my office and grimaced sympathetically, like "Oh. Stuck with frozen food, huh?"
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? FROZEN FOOD IS AMAZING. IT'S A MIRACLE AND A TESTAMENT TO THE AWESOMENESS OF OUR TIMES. YOU SHOULD THANK GOD EVERY TIME YOU PEEL BACK THE PLASTIC ON ONE OF THESE FUCKING THINGS. PEOPLE USED TO GO A LIFETIME WITHOUT EVER TASTING BIBIMBAP AND YOU JUST MADE YOURSELF SOME NOTTOTALLYSHITTY BIBIMBAP IN FIVE MINUTES.