Eating out is awesome, but it doesn’t compare to the experience of cooking a meal from scratch. No, really it doesn’t. From the sound of garlic slowly softening in a pan of ultra-hot olive oil, to laying out your food so that it is optimally photogenic. Each stage of the culinary experience is wonderfully, and deserves to be cherished.
And yet, it’s far too common for people to hold a severe phobia of the kitchen. Making a meal from scratch is so intimidating to these people, they instead get their food from takeaways and from plastic trays which have been heated into oblivion in the microwave. They feel constantly fatigued from the salt, fat and MSG saturated in their food.
Does that sound like you? Well, let me tell you, that’s no way to live. However, it’s easy to conquer your fear of the kitchen. Here’s how.
So, why do you want to learn to cook? For some, it’s being able to eat meals constructed from fresh, flavorful ingredients. For others, it’s being able to eat meals that are tailored to their dietary needs. Some just want to spend less money on expensive restaurants and microwave meals.
Whatever your motivation is, focus on it. It’s a lot easier to learn a skill when you’ve got a specific goal in mind.
Gain An Appreciation Of Foods
There was a time when I lived entirely off fatty, unhealthy junk food. I used to relish buying a frozen pizza, and I would eat burgers of questionable animal origin. Mmm, zebra.
And then I got into food. I mean… Properly got into food. I’d relish every crunch of fresh iceberg lettuce. I’d start taking the time to see where my meat comes from, and why local produce is often better quality and significantly better for the environment. I’d try stranger and stronger cheeses, and tuck into parts of the animal I’ve never eaten before. I was perpetually in a state of culinary experimentation.
During this time period, I gained an understanding of what good food is, and what it isn’t. I learned about why fresh produce matters, and eventually I changed my entire perspective on what food I enjoyed eating.
If you’re going to get into cooking because you’re excited about eating healthier, tastier, more environmentally friendly food, it’s important to develop an appreciation of food. Try shaking up the groceries you buy to include more fresh produce. Try vegetables and meats you’ve never tried before. If there’s a local farmers market in your town, pay it a visit. Go on the Web and use sites like Local Harvest to hunt for fresh farmers produce.
Some farms have websites where you can have produce delivered to your door. There’s nothing fresher than that! Try investigating if any farms in your local area offer that service. Do note that this can be quite expensive, however.
Be Not Afraid!
I’ll be blunt. Unless you’re frying your steaks in petroleum, you’re probably not going to get killed in the kitchen. Not even a little bit maimed. Sorry to disappoint.
Sure, you might occasionally expose a piece of unprotected flesh to the searing heat of the frying pan. But that’s par for the course. For the first few months I took cooking seriously, I used to cringe whenever I burned myself on the iron trays of my oven, or whenever a stray piece of super-hot cooking oil bubbled and burned me. With that said, the occasional sting and burn won’t kill you. And you know what? You get used to it.
Want to know how you get over your fear of cooking. Which brings me on to my next point.
Cook With A Friend
People cook in different ways. For some, it’s a solo activity. Kitchens are hallowed territory, fiercely defended from external meddling. Other people treat cooking as a communal activity, bringing in friends and family to help out.
There’s a lot to love about cooking with another person. You can get constant feedback on how you’re doing, and can actively share tips on how to accomplish culinary tasks. You’ve also got someone to keep yourself focused on the task at hand, and to keep you from burning the food.
Asking someone to help you out is a bit like asking someone to be your career mentor. You have to identify who amongst your friends are capable of cooking, and try to entice them over with the prospect of delicious food.
Learn From The Best
For novice chefs, it often feels like you’re aimlessly throwing ingredients into a pan, hoping that they eventually produce something vaguely palatable. Stop that.
But first, let me clarify. I’ve got nothing against experimentation in the kitchen. Experimentation is good, but only when you can make an educated guess about how the ingredients you are throwing into the pan will work, and whether the quantities used will overpower the dish. This comes with experience.
So, in the meantime, try a few recipes other people have created. A significant number of celebrity chefs have their own websites where they publish their own recipes. Given them a visit, and try them on for size. My personal favorites include the websites of Jamie Oliver, and Nigella Lawson.
Check Out Some Awesome Cooking Podcasts
Cooking isn’t just something you do when you’re hungry. For many, it’s a lifestyle. They read cooking magazines. Their bookshelves groan under the weight of countless cook books, and they fall asleep on the TV to the dulcet tones of Gordon Ramsay.
Cookery podcasts are to be found on the iPods of food fanatics, and there are some amazing ones to choose from. I’m a big fan of the Spilled Milk podcast, which is an irreverent take on all things culinary, but without the pretense that is so often found in the food world.
For me, it’s comforting to know that there are people who struggle with the same food related battles that I do. Hearing about the experiences of other people is something I find incredible comforting.
And if you’re interested in optimizing the food you eat for maximum nutrition, why don’t you check out this list of podcasts on biohacking, compiled by our very own Rob Nightingale.
I sure am. If you’re someone afraid of cooking, and you’d like to get your feet wet in the kitchen, why don’t you try starting out having a look at this list of websites with recipes that are easy to make, delicious and most of all, affordable.
And of course, if you have any further tips, please feel free to drop them in the comments below.