2005-08-28

Brits Learning to Cook Again

'Celebrity chefs' and foreign travel have provoked a kitchen revolution, with Britons now spending more than an hour a day cooking, according to a new study. The trend suggests a cultural swing away from the rapid rise in popularity of 'ready meals' witnessed in the UK during the 1990s. After years of campaigning by 'gourmets' and 'health promoters', it appears the message about the benefits of good home cooking is finally getting through. The report found the healthy Mediterranean diet had become Britons' favourite. Ms.Amanda Johnson, a spokesman for 'The British Dietetic Association', said:
'There's been a huge growth in the number of programmes and information in the media from "celebrity chefs" about cooking. 'In the past, people were worried about cooking and reports suggested many weren't even able to cook a jacket potato or boil an egg, so this is really welcome news that things are beginning to change. 'We would always try to encourage people to do more cooking, even if they use some pre-prepared or convenience ingredients, but add their own vegetables.'
The influence of foreign cuisine on British cooks was highlighted in the report, with Mediterranean dishes now even more popular than traditional British favourites. Nearly three in five of those questioned in the survey for travel firm 'Ocean Village' said they were inspired to cook by the food they tried on holiday, while just 22 per cent said they stuck to preparing only traditional British dishes. One quarter of those surveyed said would go on holiday specifically to learn more about food and cooking. Mr.Nick Nairn, the 'celebrity chef' and cook school owner, agreed that travel had a positive influence on cooking in the UK. He said the easy availability of good-quality products from the Mediterranean such as virgin olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese encouraged people to experiment.
'There's been something of a food revolution in Scotland in the last 20 years. 'Although I do have a go at supermarkets, they have a pretty comprehensive array of ingredients on offer that weren't even in our culinary vocabulary previously.'
After Mediterranean, the report found British fare in second place as the cook's choice, with Asian food in third. It also revealed people are more willing to experiment, with one in three claiming they are 'adventurous' cooks. The survey of more than 1_000 people found the average time spent cooking a meal is 69 minutes, but when it came to preparing for dinner parties they would spend an average of one hour 47 minutes in the kitchen. Mr.Nairn added:
'This is the first time I've heard of such an encouraging survey and from the point of view of someone who runs a cook school it's fantastic; we put 5_000 people/year through our cook school, so I like to think we would eventually see some sort of impact. 'This is an encouraging sign that things are moving in the right direction. 'One of the things about learning how to cook is that you empower yourself; if you can't cook, your fate is in someone else's hands.'
The survey also found that more men claimed to be adventurous cooks than women. However, recent studies show women are still responsible for most of a household's cooking. A recent survey by the frozen food firm 'Birds Eye' revealed that one in ten men say they never cook at all. 'Cooks up the antipasto as healthy food Med-style comes home', FIONA MACGREGOR, The Scotsman, 2005-08-17 Links: Health Education Board for Scotland Healthy Eating Association for the Study of Obesity International Obesity Task Force National Obesity Forum

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