“Housemade” – Are you sure?
In the culinary world, we often throw words around that have little meaning. Even more often, we throw out the actual definition of the word and apply it as we see fit. I am extremely guilty of the latter. Sometimes a word doesn’t exist for what I am doing, and rather than make up my own word, I choose an existing word that, for one reason or another, applies to what I need. I think that’s fine. I don’t think it is fine to use words with no meaning. These are called “sizzle words,” and they are only there to entice the palate. They don’t actually describe or mean anything. Think “sizzling fajitas” or “plump shrimp.” Those are “sizzle” words.
Unfortunately, organic has become one of those words. To me, organic doesn’t just mean that it adheres to the federal guidelines, it means something. It is an approach to food. The other day I was at a not-to-be-named restaurant and was flooded with the words, “organic,” “handpicked” and, worst of all, “housemade.” Here I am thinking, “Awesome! This is going to be great!” And to be honest, it was pretty good. Nothing knock your socks off wonderful, but certainly good. As I was leaving, the door to the kitchen swung open and it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. There in front of me were shelves and shelves of canned goods, premade dressings and name brand, over processed products available at any grocery store. I felt so cheated. I was irate. For the next 20 minutes I ranted about how unethical it was. “Those liars!”
Later that night reason set in, and I thought about it some more. Were those dressings organic? Yes, I believe they were. Were those herbs handpicked? Probably. Was the iced tea housemade? I am sure they did brew it themselves. Everything they said was true. I just fell prey to sizzle words. I went from being angry to being embarrassed.
All this makes me take a closer look at myself. It has always been my goal to have as many items as possible coming out of my kitchen to be housemade. I don’t print it on my menu, but that is a design element. I am sure I would if it fit the design. It was inventory time. What can we start making ourselves, because that is what is expected of us. It is what I expect of us. We’ve been working on it, and this is me assuring you that we will continue to work on it. While I will probably never bake my own bread, I will make everything else “in house.”