It’s that time of year when we all come together and bake, fry, boil, toast, and in other ways cook for each other. It’s the time of year when co-workers sup together in cleaned-out printer rooms. This past Friday I gladly attended such an affair. The conversation was lively. The laughter was loud. And the meatballs were incredible. I mean quietly excuse yourself from the conversation to get more incredible. I mean stop and tell your neighbor about them incredible.
Inevitably the conversation turns toward the food. Which lead my group into banter about just how much better home cooked food is than store-bought. We all agreed. Yet somehow I knew this didn’t apply to food that I might cook at home.
Being in the back-slapping spirit, I had to find the meatball chef to pay my respects. In fact, the whole group of us home-cooked conversants sought her out. Upon finding her, this meatball mistress, twenty years my senior, I promised that should anything happen to my wife and to her husband that I would seek her hand.
She was grateful and we all laughed, but she burst our bubbles and my heart just the same. She had gotten them at Sam’s Club. (to my wife, fear not, I remain faithful.)
How could meatballs so wonderful come from Sam’s Club? Flash Freeze technology that’s how.
Huge leaps have been made in preserving foods by rapidly freezing them to very cold temperatures. Slow freezing allows crystals to form and damage the cellular membrane of whatever you are freezing – and you get the mushy texture and flavor of those old frozen vegetables. Flash freezing works by preventing large ice crystals from forming, keeping the membranes and the flavor intact.
My wife and I saw this in action 8 years ago when we took the Ben and Jerry’s plant tour. (I recommend it)
Which leads me to today’s But if Not. When we specialize and trade things get better for all of us.
As pointed out in Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, there was a time when every community had an opera singer, some good, some not so good. But this was the only way to get to hear opera, and people paid to hear it. Then along came the record player and anyone could hear the masters. This wasn’t good for the local singer, but it sure was good for opera fans. A disruptive technology came along that allowed those with an absolute advantage to reach markets previously unreachable. Good for the ears, but bad for the local fat lady. Perhaps she stopped singing and started cooking meatballs.
More recently, every community, perhaps even every family, had a local “expert” that could make good meatballs (or some other specialty). Maybe they were good, maybe they weren’t.
Now thanks to flash freeze technology, like the disruption caused by the record player, Chef Batali’s meatballs are available to all of us.
Things aren’t just getting better. They are getting better faster.