Got a catalog in the mail today from The Peanut Shop, and on the cover was a photo of this venerable purveyor’s “Premium Handcooked Peanuts.” Perhaps somewhere in the world they’ve taught robots to cook peanuts, but is the fact that human hands were involved in manufacture of these peanuts really worth trumpeting?
I’ve been noticing a rash of culinary handwork lately: Salads that are hand-tossed, cutlets that are hand-breaded, bread that is hand-baked. What, I wonder, is the alternative? Foot-baked?
Sometimes you’ll be told that fruits or vegetables have been hand-picked — that at least makes some sense since large-scale farms use machines to pick. But I’ve also come across the phrase “hand-selected” to describe products as diverse as fruit, meat and wine. That phrase, I think, conveys the opposite of what is intended. When I choose among two peaches — let alone two wines — my hands are involved, but it’s my head that I rely on to make the decision.