By Susanne Merrett
I LOVE to cook. For me, cooking ticks a lot of boxes ~ creative, nurturing, sensual, nutritious, and, of course, delicious!
So, when I read a recent survey that only ten percent of Americans loved to cook, I was totally stunned. I mistakenly assumed that most people get the same pleasure out of cooking (and eating!) as I do. Boy, was I wrong. Ten percent!
The article was filled with more distressing news. Of the remaining people, half (45%) actually hate cooking (say it's not so!!!), while the other half (the last 45%) are lukewarm at best, and cook when necessary, but prefer to simply heat up prepared food or order in.
“Okay,” I said to myself, “something is definitely wrong in Denmark! Where does this dislike of cooking come from?” my reeling brain wanted to know.
After much consideration, and further research into Canadian cooking habits (which fared only slightly better and showed interesting geographic trends), I decided there are some definite hurdles to cooking. In no particular order, and without judgment, here are some of the social and economic impediments to cooking:
Lack of time. People lead busy lives, and most households have two working adults, which means less time to spend on meal prep.
Rising food costs. Even with two working adults, the cost of food (and living, in general) has increased, while incomes have not necessarily kept pace. Less disposable income makes processed and fast food more attractive.
Lack of experience. Younger people report having little know how or confidence in the kitchen. Our schools don’t teach Home Economics at the same level as they did years ago, and working parents have less time to teach cooking to their children.
Choice and Convenience of Restaurants. There is an abundance of dining choices out there. Not so much on the Eastern Shore, but in the city, there are restaurants for every budget, some offering meals cheaper (although less healthy) than you can make at home.
Pressure to perform. The explosion of food shows on TV and food blogs has actually decreased peoples' desire to cook. The pressure to live up to the new trends in food is too daunting.
This is not a complete list by any stretch, and I recognize that for some, cooking will never be something to aspire to. I get it. I have no interest in fixing my car, never will.
Tell Me What You Think about Cooking
With these challenges in mind, we have come to the participation part of this article. Please leave a comment on the online version of this article, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). How do you feel about cooking? How much do you do? Do you make the same meals all the time, or mix things up? Are you comfortable in the kitchen? Would you like to learn new recipes or new cuisines? What is your priority when cooking – ease, nutrition, cost, or something else? Tell me as much or as little as you like. I'd love to hear from you!
Considering that many people in Atlantic Canada see themselves as beginners in the kitchen, have learned cooking from mothers and grandmothers, and prefer easy, economical meals (according a recent study by celebrity chef Ricardo Larrivée), I am eager to hear what your thoughts on cooking are.
With easy, economical meals in mind, I would like to leave you with my Marvelous Mac ‘N Cheese recipe. Super simple, and made in the same time as the popular blue boxed variety in the store, but with far more flavour and goodness. Happy cooking!