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Is this cooking?

My husband and I were recently guests at a buffet dinner. There was a Manhattan-style crab chowder that both of us very much enjoyed. In fact, I asked the host's mother, who had brought the soup, if she would share the recipe. "Oh, yes! It's really easy! Mix together 4 cans of Campbell's Select Vegetable Soup, a large can of chopped tomatoes, a pound of crabmeat, and a tablespoon each of Worcestershire Sauce and Old Bay Seasoning. That's all there is to it."

On the way home, my husband said he'd never serve something like that to guests - that it wasn't cooking, it was just opening a bunch of cans. I'm not sure I agree, but wonder what you think: is this cooking or not?

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  1. It is a level of cooking. You enjoyed it, she put it together, not a store bought item. I think we all have old recipes that call for a can of this and a can of that. If it tastes good, serve it and enjoy. Not all good foods have to be from 2 page recipes. The point is to enjoy the taste of food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Janet

      According to Merriam Webster cooking is " to prepare food for eating especially by means of heat". I'd say that this dish that you both "very much enjoyed" meets that criteria. Your husband sounds like a food snob.

      1. re: Janet

        I don't need to read further. I agree with this statement. Whether or not the methodology is honest "cooking", the idea of preparing food is for the end result, not the faff in between.

      2. You say that you both very much enjoyed the soup, so much so, that you requested the recipe. Does it really matter that the lady made an enjoyable soup out of some prepared items rather than spend the whole day chopping and stewing?

        1. I agree with Janet and Elaine...it's a level of cooking and you enjoyed it! The person who brought the chowder did not try to pass it off for a gourmet dish or anything like that...it's what I and others might call "low-brow" cooking, but, hey, it's still cooking!

          1. The food writers Jane and Michael Stern, I believe, have referred to that era in the 60s when making a meal often consisted of opening cans of foods and frozen foods as "assembling" rather than cooking.

            I like the idea that Janet had -- that this is a level of cooking. Another level, and one that has its own term to denote it, is "cooking from scratch." It's great you enjoyed the soup. I hope you were able to still appreciate it after you learned its provenance.

            1. This is like the semi-homemade stuff Sandra Lee touts. But if it's good, it's good!