Has anyone noticed just how frequently cooking has been showing up in popular culture of late? It certainly is not a new phenomenon; recipes and such have been a hallmark of television almost since its inception, and I fondly recall rainy days of my youth spent watching Justin Wilson blend his skills in the kitchen with his homespun humor, both distinctly Cajun. While his recipes and creations certainly appeared delectable, I have to admit it was the comedic entertainment that kept me coming back.

For that matter, in much of the current entertainment focusing on cooking, the recipes have little to do with the show.Top ChefandHell’s Kitchenare two prime examples from the television front. Both are reality shows, but neither delves deeply into the creation of dishes.Hell’s Kitchendoes not even promote recipes from the episodes on its website. In its defense,Top Chefoffers an ample assortment of recipes and tips on its site, but it is still interesting that two shows with cooking at their heart have little actual advice on the subject.

In the movieWaitress, the lead character creates pies whose ingredients offer a glimpse into her emotions, and while I have yet to partake of “Earl Murders Me Because I’m Having an Affair Pie” or “Pregnant Miserable Self-pitying Loser Pie,” the viewer is left to wonder if those creations convey those feelings. Certainly, the unusual mix of ingredients suggests they might.

The recent Pixar-Disney releaseRatatouille, while weaving its tale of a mouse with gourmet ambitions, actually attempted something seemingly impossible: to give the viewer a visual sense of taste. In the process, the film undoubtedly introduced moviegoers to an entire lexicon of flavors and ingredients. To be honest, that is about as much as you can expect in terms of cooking advice on the big screen, but it had another important element: the sentiment “Anyone can cook.”

Entrants in this year’s Spirit of Innovation Awards are helping to make that a little less intimidating, and a number of high-quality products were among the group; the winners will be announced soon. In fact, the 2007 entrants received the highest marks in the Awards’ history and included such premium-positioned products as a heat-and-serve soufflé, a line of pasta sauces featuring upscale flavors with varietal wines, and marinated, stuffed pork entrées. All of which are helping to make sure “anyone can cook…well.”