Are convenience foods useful or just lazy?

According to Jamie Oliver, it takes just five minutes boiling to cook an egg with a runny yolk from scratch.
According to Jamie Oliver, it takes just five minutes boiling to cook an egg with a runny yolk from scratch.

JUST when you thought modern day convenience foods couldn't get any worse, the Dippy Egg was invented.

"A pre-boiled egg? What's next - a self-peeling apple or a fragrance-free onion?" begins Dippy Egg, the perfect snack for a joyless modern diet, which explains that "[i]n a matter of weeks, the single, pasteurised egg in its shell - pre-boiled in an airtight plastic bag in order to preserve just the right consistency and sold in a lurid Pot Noodle-style container - will be on supermarket shelves."

Yes, really.

The ready-made Dippy Egg: how dippy can we get? says, with perhaps a touch of sarcasm: "Well, praise be: the ready-made Dippy Egg is here, promising the perfect runny yolk. Every time. A pre-boiled egg. That you pour hot water on. In a cup."

If only they'd been around before Once Were Warriors: Jake Heke could have cooked the man some eggs himself.

These pre-cooked eggs must be submerged in boiling water for five minutes before they're ready to eat.

According to Jamie Oliver, it takes just five minutes boiling to cook an egg with a runny yolk from scratch, so this fresh insult to food has clearly not been devised to save time.

Perhaps it's aimed at people hiking, camping or in dormitory accommodation where regular cooking facilities are not available.

Reader comments on The Guardian article disapprovingly catalogued other convenience foods: cartons of egg whites, ready mashed potatoes, pre-toasted bread and frozen bubble and squeak.

I'm not fond of those flavoured canned tomatoes. Who buys these? I mean: if you're incapable of adding dried basil and oregano to create your own "Italian style" tomatoes then it's unlikely you'll have mastered the art of using a can-opener.

A quick trawl around a Kiwi supermarket revealed some products to make authentic home-cooks shudder.

There was the Ready to Simmer Slow Cooker Combo which consisted of washed and cut chunks of potato, pumpkin, carrot, onion, parsnip and celery - as well as the Apple and Rhubarb Crumble Kit which contained 180g of crumble, 350g of (washed and sliced) apple and 250g of rhubarb.

It's easy to frown at such plastic-wrapped conveniences but ready chopped produce is probably a godsend for elderly people or anyone who struggles with motor skills.

One of the readers on the Dippy Egg article wrote: "I personally know people who buy their cheese 'ready grated'. No other reason than that they're too bone idle to use a grater."

I confess I always have a ready grated pack of Edam cheese in the fridge. It's used for stuffing cannelloni - and sprinkling on pizzas and burritos.

If you've ever grated the skin off your knuckles into a pristine pile of freshly shredded cheese you'll probably approve of the pre-grated version too. It's not a pretty sight. Mind you, I'm bone idle as well.

Topics:  easy eating opinion

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