When Was the Last Time You Did It?

by Emily Jasper on April 5, 2010

Cooking I mean. If you watch television, you’d think we’re all obsessed. Everything from the entire Food Network, down to the Top Chefs and Hell’s Kitchens among us, it’s all right there. We think that we can don the white coat and give ourselves three Michelin stars.

When was the last time you actually cooked?

In watching Julie & Julia (for like the 20th time), I pulled out my own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking to look through. While the book was written for the servantless American cook, I’m sorry, it’s even too complicated for me. Is our generation too lackadaisical to cook?

Maybe I should reverse a little. When I was in high school, a good time to start learning how to cook, I was too busy with sports, extracurriculars, a part-time job, editing the school paper, and all kinds of overscheduled obligations that any other teen in my group seemed to have. Most often, I would get home from practices or meetings, reheat what was left on the stove, and then run upstairs to do homework.

Needless to say, after college where I had tons of prepared food options, I never really learned to cook.

It’s been a few years since then, and I’ve done a lot of experimenting. I’d like to think I can do some basic cooking, but MtAoFC is even a little much. Screw 30 Minute Meals, I need something in 10 minutes with less than 5 ingredients.

This is such an issue that I had anxiety for weeks before my first Thanksgiving. What if I ruined everything??

So while I can bake up a storm, the part of cooking that requires exact science, I still don’t feel like I can cook. I look at MtAoFC and wonder, could I do it? Could I really cook like this on a regular basis? Without the help of any prepared ingredients?

With so many people looking to go back to basics, I think I can. If we didn’t think about ease so much, we might start realizing that a little extra time can even save cost. Yeah I said it, cost.

For example, when I started breaking down the basic ingredients in most things, while it seemed like a huge investment upfront, spice racks have saved my life. You can do anything with a handful of ingredients if you have spices. No one told me this. I thought you always needed to buy the prepared stuff. Instead, you can find lower cost, higher grade ingredients (like produce) if you know how to spice them right.

Turns out that kind of stuff can be pretty awesome. And pretty good for you.

If cooking didn’t seem so complex, would we learn more? If we weren’t overachievers, would we learn normal life skills like cooking? Does knowing how to cook make a difference anymore?

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