The cosy, comforting appeal of ‘home-made and traditional’

Can you imagine a hand-painted sign outside a garage saying, ‘Home made vehicles; made with all British parts’. The pedals might be in the wrong order and the wheels all different sizes but hey! That’s the charm of home-made!

Or your new gadget arrives in a recycled Jiffy bag and a comp slip which reads, ‘Home made tablet’. Might be made of MDF and be four feet by six (‘didn’t have the right tools to cut it any smaller I’m afraid…’) but how very characterful.

We forget that making anything well needs skill, care and experience. Even cooking.

So why does food advertised as home-made still make us swoon?

At every UK market, school fair, fundraising event and village fete you’ll find a stall with home-made cakes. Some might even add the boast of being ‘traditional.’

I’ve sampled many. Mainly because I’ve been taken in by their appearance. My adventures have been full of heartbreak.

The flapjacks that are far too sweet, the cornflake cakes which have been made by smothering the cereal in melted milk chocolate (I want to vomit) or the fairy cakes which taste of nothing at all.

Do we forget that home-made doesn’t equate to the talent of a patissière with a professionally equipped kitchen and a high-quality, tried and tested recipe? What is it about the phrase ‘home-made’ that makes us go weak at the knees (and then the stomach)?

I think I know what it is. The fantasy that we’re going to be indulged with a fictitious mother-love via the product. Some buxom, aproned lady who calls you ‘dear’ and can offer tips on stain removal and caring for sheep. It will be infused with the kind of her ‘I’ve-got-all-the-time-in-the-world’ attitude. We’ll feel cared for and nurtured by eating that pale-coloured thing in a fluted cake case.

Or even more than that. We’ll be transported to a bygone era where (we think) food was unadulterated and things tasted good. I’m guessing.

There have always been bad cooks. Most the world probably live off poorly prepared food.

My advice? If you crave home-made, make it yourself.

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