Jump to content

Why Do You Enjoy Cooking?


DanCole42
 Share

Recommended Posts

Why do you enjoy cooking? I love to eat, sure, and eating the fruits (or vegetables) of my labors is a reward in and of itself. But for most people I think there's something more.

For me it's about control.

I'm a manager in my day job. That means that I tell other people what to do. These people have advanced technical degrees and can do a lot of things I can't.

However, many of them don't perform at 100%, and as someone who always aims for perfection it's exceedingly frustrating for me to lack the permission or expertise to jump in and get it done. "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself," but it can be very paralyzing if for whatever reason you CAN'T do it yourself.

I'm left with a terrible feeling of impotence and loss of control. I've heard stress defined as "that which is caused when your goals and your resources to achieve those goals do not match up." I can definitely understand that.

But when I'm cooking, I have complete control. Start to finish. I know exactly what I want and I know how to achieve it. I have the knowledge and equipment to get it done and get it done right, and I'm not dependent on anyone else for success (or failure). Everything rest on my shoulders and it's extremely satisfying to operate in the kitchen with that sense of potency, competence, and control.

The only resources I need to achieve my goals are my own.

What about you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The KMango Genetic Package did not include the following abilities:

*Singing

*Musical Instruments

*Drawing

*Painting

*Sculpting

However, through a series of upgrades and hard-won negotiations, the package evolved to include cooking as an art form. The indulgence of infinite possibilities, sacrosanctness of an unrepeatable composition, and the allure of plate as canvas are the draw for me.

It's a good thing other people are around to feed, too. That's kind of nice. :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure that I enjoy cooking. I do it well enough to feed myself and my family healthy and mostly tasty meals. I do it well enough that I can take most non-baking recipes and riff off them and get good results. But if I could have someone cook for everyday for the rest of my life? Especially if I got to pick the menu? I'd be all over that. Seriously.

Of course it might help if I had a larger, more space efficient kitchen and if I didn't have to do the clean up too.

Pondering...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've loved cooking as long as I can remember. Some of my most pleasurable moments as a kid were when my mon & dad would go out for an evening that involved dinner & I was left alone with some hamburger, taters & onions. Burgers & hashed browns, fried up in the ever-present bacon fat, yum. My folks recognized early on that I knew how to handle things in the kitchen & trusted me to operate the gas stove without burning myself or setting the place on fire.

I didn't cook much in college, though occasionally, on the cook's night off at the frat house, I would take over the kitchen & whip up some fried chicken for a few friends. In grad school I had an electric hot plate & my Boy Scout mess kit, & made a lot of rudimentary dinners with that setup.

My sophistication & skills increased dramatically after I moved to New York, as one might expect. I branched out into Indian & Chinese cooking & became rather good at both. Now that I'm a geezer, I've moved back to a simpler approach & rarely cook such exotic things any more, but still enjoy preparing simple meals centered on fresh produce from the greenmarkets.

There's just something inherently satisfying about selectng & preparing your own food. I dig the shopping as much as the cooking. The process of turning good ingredients into a properly cooked meal that highlights the flavors of whatever you're working with - I can't quite put my finger on why, but the enjoyment never fades.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can think of at least two reasons. One, I married into a family of artists. I didn't really start cooking until after Azami and I got married and I'd been spending a lot of time around his parents, who had a cute house full of art, much of it their own (and they lent us some to decorate our own house when we lived nearby, which is neither here nor there but was awesome). I think I subconsciously wanted to have an art of my own, and I love eating, so it seemed natural to use food as my medium. Two, I'm a lawyer; I spend all day reading, thinking, and problem-solving. Cooking is a way for me to let my mind go at the end of the day, a kind of meditation where I stand and stir stuff and don't have to think deep thoughts. Baking, on the other hand, feels like creativity for my anal-retentive side. :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I enjoy cooking for the same reasons I enjoy woodworking: because it is a craft that uses my hands. That is an important activity for someone in my walk of life, who sits on his ass a lot and uses, or tries to use, his mind for a living. I'm sure many here can sympathize. Like woodworking, cooking is also sensual--filled with aromas, textures, and colors. There is of course an intellectual side to cooking as well that gives pleasure: the history of recipes, the chemistry of cooking, the culture of the table. But what I like most about cooking is that I can get dirty and work with sharp knives, heat, heavy pots, and then hopefully have something nice to eat and share with others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because, per the deal with my wife, the choice is either cook dinner or do the dishes.

Why spending an hour or two in the kitchen preparing food is preferable to 10 minutes scrubbing pots, I can't explain. Maybe has something to do with playing with sharp pointy things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Passion

Art

Love

Sex

Sustenance

Creativity

Life

You

I cook. I write poetry (it ain't bad, either) and I take photographs and I cook. These are my creative outlets. I am never as happy as when I am feeding people. I am never as relaxed as when I am in the kitchen.

I told Dan tonight to write me up as he would a restaurant. Am I that level of quality? No. But does feeding people, making them happy, mean that much to me? Yes.

I cook because it is what sustains me. I love it, and I need it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why do you enjoy cooking?

primarily it's a creative outlet.

I'm a bit hesitant to answer because I'm not sure I "enjoy" cooking any more than I enjoy talking or writing. Sure, I cook for reasons more than pure sustenance, but enjoyment is a minor role. If anything, I'm super critical of my work and I hate to hear any feedback (NPI) on my dishes.

Cooking is the basest form of humanity. On this planet, you can't understand everyone's language, but you can understand everyone's cooking. I cook to understand, and to prepare myself for, others. Eating without knowing how to cook is like speaking a language without being literate.

PS it's less about control for me than it is about being more independent. But that may be a minor distinction from what you are saying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most important reason I cook, aesthetically: being able to eat what I want, just the way I like it.

If I could order in exactly what I wanted, whenever I wanted it, and money was no problem, I probably would never cook. The world is full of much better cooks, I just can't summon them to my abode on my whim.

Tonight, white bean soup with tasso and smoked turkey. Very nice. Not to mention relatively inexpensive, and I never got out of my nightgown and fuzzy slippers all day. Love these long weekends.

The most important reason I cook, practically: so I don't go hungry.

In other words, it's all about the food.

(Should I mention that my husband actually does most of the cooking? I do the shopping, and come up with recipes. I did watch the beans all day while he went out and played. It's a tough job, watching beans all day in your nightgown and fuzzy slippers.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is one of the few avenues for creativity, of the many that I have explored, that do not require permission, selection or competitive audition from or with others. That I can imagine and see to fruition with only my personal budget determining how far my skill can take me. And in a very short amount of time, when compared with, say, a novel. Where I get to enjoy both the process and the product, which also brings pleasure to others I care about--and who bestow appreciation in return. Something I discovered early in life was that being able to make people laugh and to feed them delicious food are lovable attributes. Right, Dan?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cook because I can't afford to eat out every night, but expect to eat really good food for every meal. That means someone has to make it and that person would be me as while the Hubby can cook- it isn't the same.

It also feels good to be accomplished in a variety of things.

And I enjoy cooking for the social aspect of kitchen talk with friends and family. Many things that are said in the kitchen are things that just aren't shared anywhere else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, cooking is a combination of many things. It is meditation, control and a non-verbal demonstration of affection.

I love that at the end of a very bad, horrible, no good day, I can get into the kitchen and put together a few ingredients that turn in to something great that will sustain me for days. An hour or so worth of effort that produces sustainable satisfaction. My other efforts in life rarely have such a high ROI.

I also come from a long tradition of cooking equals caring. I enjoy watching family or friends laughing and chatting over a meal that I prepared, something that brings us all together and in the case of family, gives everyone at least one thing to agree on; this is good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was a kid I had a chemistry set (actually several chem sets). Loved the equipment, loved the ingredients, loved the flame of the alcohol lamp. Never came up with much to show for it all, except a few nasty stains on my bedroom ceiling and acid burns on my clothes. Now I have a kitchen -- lots of equipment, lots of ingredients, lots of flame (a lot more BTUs than the old alcohol lamp put out) -- and my family, friends, and I get to eat what I manage to come up with. Much more satisfiying, and I've avoided the stains on the ceiling. :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today's my Sunday this week, so I turned a fridge full of shopping trips into:

  • Blue Ballet Soup w leeks and celery root
  • Cardoon gratin w fennel and (the other half of the) celery root
  • Potatoes Rioja
  • Nettle frittata w goat cheese and leeks

What I love most about cooking is shopping and selecting and looking at the beautiful things I chose, then trying to come up with ways they would work with what's at hand so stuff doesn't shrivel, brown or rot. I can't remember the last time I spent so much of my day making one dish after the other so there would be something for lunches and something to heat up when arriving home late and cold and hungry.

The sauce for the gratin was the best part: infusing Clear Spring Creamery's whole milk w a fresh bay leaf plucked on Capitol Hill, a clove of garlic, stalks of chopped fennel and leeks sautéed in butter, then adding some canned chicken broth to heat up as the roux came together. While thickening the mixture, I threw in the rind from a piece of Parmesan I had just finished grating.

I have to say that by late afternoon, I was finding it all a bit of a chore and was glad that I didn't work in a kitchen. For me, there's no choice between cooking and washing dishes, and no matter what Waitman says as Busboy, I can't find pleasure in washing dishes and think way too much time spent cooking is actually spent scrubbing pots, pans, utensils, countertops, burners, appliances and strainers.

Eventually got back into the spirit of it all.

On days like this, cooking is a wonderful way to procrastinate while still being productive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to say that by late afternoon, I was finding it all a bit of a chore and was glad that I didn't work in a kitchen. For me, there's no choice between cooking and washing dishes, and no matter what Waitman says as Busboy, I can't find pleasure in washing dishes and think way too much time spent cooking is actually spent scrubbing pots, pans, utensils, countertops, burners, appliances and strainers.

Cooking in a professional kitchen is very hard work which takes tremendous strength and stamina. There is usually someone else designated to wash the pots and pans for you, however. Some couples have it worked out so that one cooks-the other washes the dishes. My father always used to wash the dishes after dinner, despite the fact that my mother did not work outside the home. I haven't been able to negotiate the same deal for myself, unfortunately.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cook because there is almost nothing worse to me than eating a bad meal. The only way to have a good meal (outside of a great restaurant) is to make it myself. I like knowing exactly what is going into my food - controlling the quality, fat, seasoning. I like knowing that my family is eating healthy, delicious food that is made with love. I like that I am teaching my son about how food is made, where it comes from, why it is cooked in a certain way. But mostly... I like to eat good food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cook because there is almost nothing worse to me than eating a bad meal. The only way to have a good meal (outside of a great restaurant) is to make it myself. I like knowing exactly what is going into my food - controlling the quality, fat, seasoning. I like knowing that my family is eating healthy, delicious food that is made with love. I like that I am teaching my son about how food is made, where it comes from, why it is cooked in a certain way. But mostly... I like to eat good food.

"And Bingo was his name-o!"

Well said and beautiful intentions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cooking in a professional kitchen is very hard work which takes tremendous strength and stamina. There is usually someone else designated to wash the pots and pans for you, however. Some couples have it worked out so that one cooks-the other washes the dishes. My father always used to wash the dishes after dinner, despite the fact that my mother did not work outside the home. I haven't been able to negotiate the same deal for myself, unfortunately.

I grew up in a house where you had two choices - cook, or clean up. Now, somehow, I do both. Maybe we should start a union?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I enjoy cooking for 2 main reasons:

1. Often, the act of actually serving something that makes others happy is more enjoyable than eating the food I actually prepare. Don't get me wrong, I love to eat (both my own cooking and others in a restaurant setting or not) but there is something about seeing a room lit up with smiles based on something I've prepared that is just wholly satisfying.

2. As Dan mentioned above, the whole control factor is a big part of it for me as well. I'm a perfectionist and also believe (be it right or wrong) that I can generally do a task better than someone else. It's for that reason that I enjoy cooking alone. While others often ask to help, I much prefer handing them a beer/cocktail and having them mingle with the other guests while I move about the kitchen. For whatever reason I've always found the solitude of the kitchen enjoyable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...