Something smells wrong in the kitchen.
And no, it’s not the leftovers from the takeaway you had three nights ago. In fact, it’s something much more insidious than that.
It’s that we’ve fallen out of love with cooking.
The preparation, cooking and eating of food is an important cultural unifier. It unites all people of all cultures as well as being a cultural meme as recipes and cooking techniques are passed down from generation to generation.
And yet, so many of us treat is as a drudgerous chore to get out of the way like folding the laundry or unblocking the sink.
It’s an easy mistake to make, especially since we’re working longer hours than ever and restaurants and takeaways are increasingly available and affordable.
But what, I ask you, is the point of going to the time, effort and expense to design the perfect kitchen if you’re not going to use it?
Find the right recipes
Often the reason we give up on cooking is the same reason we give up on the gym or another leisure activity; familiarity becomes boredom becomes complacency.
While learning a recipe and becoming great at making a particular gift is a unique gratification, it’s also easy to become over-reliant on that one recipe in your arsenal.
Invest in some cookery books and select a portfolio of several recipes to try out on friends and family.
As the compliments start rolling in and your confidence grows, hopefully, your repertoire will expand.
Make the cooking an event
Cooking isn’t something that you need to get out of the way so that you can get back to whatever’s on TV. It’s an opportunity to express yourself and work some magic so create a little ritual that’ll help you enjoy the event.
Get all the ingredients set out in front of you in an inviting way, pour yourself a glass of wine, put some of your favourite music on (push the family out of the house if they’re likely to criticise your singing), and show that chopping board what you’re made of!
Make the presentation an art
If the first bite is with the eye, then presentation will allow you to eat everybody’s food!
Take some time over the way your food is presented on the plate. Experiment with colours and textures. Treat the plate as your canvas, and don’t be afraid to make each and every plate a little different (your family will appreciate that you’ve made concessions for their personal tastes too!).
Feel free to add a sense of theatre to the process of serving too, with candles and plate covers (even if improvised). The “oohs” and “aahs” you’ll be sure to draw from your fellow diners will remind you of just what you’ve accomplished and keep you wanting to cook night after night.
Keep mixing it up!
Just as an athlete needs to alter their workout routine regularly to keep themselves motivated and enthusiastic, so too should the budding cuisinier!
When you’ve worked your way through one recipe book, try something completely different. If you have kids then it’s a great way to broaden their palate and get them used to try new things. It’s also a great way to find new favourite foods you never knew you had!