Why is Cooking Intimidating?

This week, I have been exploring some culinary topics, in large part, because I have been reading so many books centered on cooking lately. Several of the books that I have read purport to “de-mystify” cooking.

I have to confess that the whole notion that cooking is complicated or intimidating surprises me. Maybe this is because much of my family and many of my friends consider me to be a good cook. But it wasn’t always that way, and I still make mistakes and end up ordering pizza some nights. I think I learned to cook the way most home cooks do: by observation, and by trial-and-error. Lots of trials and lots of errors!

Even though I’ve made plenty of errors, I would never say that cooking is intimidating or complicated. To me, mindset is key.

If I am trying out an exotic Thai recipe with 20 ingredients for the first time, I take a deep breath and start slow. Cooking is a process that shouldn’t be rushed — especially the first time you try preparing a recipe. I usually approach new recipes with the optimistic notion that the end result will be amazing. If something goes wrong, I order Chinese take-out, pour a glass of wine, and pat myself on the back for trying.

Cooking can be one of the easiest things we do all day. Cooking at home isn’t like the workplace, the school campus, or the road, where we are forced to be polite and put up with others. Instead, cooking can be solitary (or not) and my kitchen is the one place where I am the boss. I decide what to make, what to add or take away, what music to play, and when meals are served. My kitchen is my own little dictatorship — and I rule with an iron spatula!

I have been inspired to try new flavor combinations and recipes by all my reading of late, but I wouldn’t dare let some fancy ingredients or multi-step preparations intimidate me or deter me from rolling up my sleeves and getting some exercise in front of the stove. Don’t you dare either. The rewards will be great in taste and personal satisfaction!