A significant number of my friends have been posting about their cooking habits, or lack thereof. They either post pictures of every meal they make, or seem to have an aversion to the craft, often declaring—with pride—that they “don’t cook.”
As someone who once believed that women don’t necessarily need to know how to cook, I’ve developed a keen interest in the subject. Since I haven’t had access to campus dining halls (or dining dollars) for over a year now, I’ve had to face the harsh reality that food doesn’t grow on grills and learn how to feed myself. I’ve noticed, however, that some of my friends are refusing to accept this basic responsibility at the expense of their own health and personal growth. This post is my attempt to identify and address some of the reasons why.
Cooking requires vulnerability and an acknowledgement of one’s own ignorance. In order to look up a recipe, you have to first admit that you don’t know how to make something, and that takes humility, especially for women. We are expected to instinctively know how to sew, clean, and cook, although many of us were never taught how. After being mocked by friends and family for not knowing how to throw down in the kitchen, many of us just start to embrace it, usually to our own detriment.
At 21, I made my first real and continued effort to learn how to cook. After moving back home, I realized that I could either eat turkey burgers and tacos for the rest of my life, or face my fear of failure. It took me a while to finally try something new, but after I did, I saw that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined and eventually started to enjoy it.
Despite my domestic advances, I still feel significantly behind in life when I’m around people who’ve been cooking since they were in middle school. Instead of wallowing in my inadequacy, however, I ask them questions: What spices do you use and why? What type of oil is that? How long should I let it simmer? Etc.
And guess what? I’ve never received a disdainful glance for asking a cooking-related question. If they were secretly judging me, I certainly didn’t know it and even if they were, so what? I refuse to allow other people’s opinion of me to dictate my life.
Cooking is not the specialized skill our generation has made it out to be; it is a basic function that we all need to adopt. If you currently don’t know how to cook, that’s perfectly fine and understandable. What’s not okay is a refusal to learn how. Cooking can be as simple as following directions. Over time, and with practice (KEYWORD: practice), you’ll start to memorize recipes and will eventually become a culinary BOSS! Until then, take the pressure off and realize that every meal you make doesn’t need to be Instagram-worthy. Learning to cook, just like anything else, is a process. Treat it as such and dare to get your hands dirty!
Look up some online recipes and try them. Turn on the Food Channel. Experiment in the safety of your own kitchen. Do something to increase your skillset and improve your eating habits. This isn’t about gender roles so much as it’s about having enough self-respect to take care of yourself, let alone your future or present family.
Finally, to the folks who post pictures before every meal, instead of steadily boasting about how self-sufficient you are, consider posting recipes or sharing helpful cooking tips with your followers. Demystify the process. Invite your culinary-challenged friends over for dinner and show them the ropes.
We all need to eat, and thus we all need to learn how to cook. Fast and frozen food can only “sustain” you for so long.