I made shrimp tacos tonight. Yes, they were delicious. While I was standing there, building the tacos for the family, I was thinking about a simple question:
Why do I love cooking so much? I am well aware that not everyone feels the same way. Some people detest cooking, some even refuse to do it. Not me.
Here are some ideas why I am a fan:
1) It is Delicious
It is more than obvious that I am a man who likes to eat. In fact, I am an overachiever in this department. I do know some people who just don’t care about food. It is not important to them – even to the point of considering it a nuisance. Personally, I cannot get my head around that concept.
I feel that yummy food is a great gift God has given us to enjoy here in mortality. He has done an amazing job making delicious things for our enjoyment. Some things He made (beets) need more help.
2) It is Service
Sure, I could never cook a meal and still eat delicious food every meal, because my EC is a terrific cook. Instead, I choose to split that duty with her. I figure that is a way that I can bless her life and take a small task off her plate.
I also like the idea of providing for my family – not just in the “Bring home the bacon” mindset, but I also like to make food for them. To me, it is an expression of love that taps into our most core needs. I find great satisfaction making something that they love, because I love them and want to give them enjoyment. Making it runs a little deeper than bringing home Panda. (Last night.)
3) It is Creative
I like to make new stuff. I like to invent. We are encouraged to do so. President Uchtdorf said this:
“The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.” (link)
I would suggest that a plate of grilled swordfish, asparagus and linguini with a lemon basil Alfredo sauce counts as “creating” something. (last Sunday’s dinner.)
Some of our family favorite recipes are things we invent. Sure, it is fun to be able to make restaurant-quality ribs or grill a steak like a boss, but it is also fun to make something completely new and different.
One nice thing about cooking as a hobby or as a creative process is that you don’t have to head to Hobby Lobby and buy a bunch of fancy new equipment and supplies.
4) It is Quick
Each meal cooked is a transitory thing. You spend some time on it, then when it is over, it is over. Some creative hobbies consist of labors that last for days, months and years. Some projects are never actually finished – I have a lot of writer friends who are nodding right now.
When a meal is done, it is done. Moving on.
This limited time investment is appealing to me because life is busy and I have a terrible attention span. I can experiment and try to do something new, and know the results immediately. Sometimes it is successful, sometimes I fail gloriously – but I don’t have to wait for the results.
This mindset might also have something to do with my impatience or a reluctance to embrace huge projects – which also explains why I write blog posts instead of epic novels.
(Yes, there is a natural irritation that something that can take 6 hours to cook can be consumed in 15 minutes, but that is the price you pay for making good stuff.)
5) It is Bonding
Cooking with someone is a very convivial. There is time for conversation, laughter, and the occasional flick with a dishtowel. I think this process also taps into our core in that we are working together to provide nourishment for ourselves and others.
My youngest is a bit of a foodie, and we cook together a lot. At 15 he can probably hold his own on teenage “Chopped.” It is fun to spend time with him, but also fun to see him flex his creativity and learn to enjoy new things.
6) It is a Skill
Not only is cooking a skill, it is a skill that can be developed. There is no limit to what you can learn. One of the reasons it is such a great venue to learn is as I mentioned before – you make a meal, then move on. Fini!
If you cook a lot, you automatically get better and better at it. There are so many tricks and techniques that can enhance what you are doing, and share the goodness with others. With YouTube and a million recipe sites online, there are infinite things to learn and to try.
For example: The shrimp tacos tonight? I recently learned (courtesy of the internet) that if you brine the shrimp in salt and baking soda before you cook them, they will stay firm and juicy, instead of drying out and getting tough. Who knew???
While it is not creative per se, learning how to mimic restaurant recipes can save a bundle as well.
There is my little soapbox about why I like to cook. I’m sure that there are plenty of you that think I am barking mad, but that is okay by me. I figure if you don’t love to cook, you are missing out.