For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an avid Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, Gennaro Contaldo, Marco Pierre White fan (celebrity chefs) – more so for their profession, than their personality. However, I also follow several friends and acquaintances who often post their own edible creations online: one specializes in Italian cooking and bread-making, others in cakes and confectionaries, and some (like yours truly) just enjoy the process of cooking their own food.
If you’ve had the (mis)fortune of having me in your class, I have more than likely mentioned my love of food and cooking multiple times. The other day in my Korean language class there was a practice conversation asking “언제 화가 나다?” (On what occasion are you [feeling] mad?), to which I wholeheartedly replied “음식이 없을 때!” (When there is no food).
But let’s get down to business: how and why I came to enjoy cooking.
For some of us, perhaps those living in the Village or on their own, cooking is a matter of survival as a University student or someone recently graduated and moving away from home. Maybe it’s a hobby to seek the limits of what you can make, and fill your stomach at the same time. Regardless, I feel that the following reasons for learning to cook can be applied in almost every scenario:
- Cost Efficiency
Firstly, I’m not going to advocate buying and making everything from scratch – believe me, I learned that first-hand the hard way. (Seriously, it’s much, much easier to buy a pasta machine to roll and cut your pasta dough than a rolling pin and a knife.) However, I will advocate to learn some basic skills and cook at home for the sake of saving on restaurants and premade ingredients that you could just as easily make at home with a few extra minutes.
Granted cooking has time costs and financial costs to consider. As a student, it’s perhaps, significantly more essential to have more studying or research time for your next exam or paper than cooking healthily and saving money for the time being. But in the off-seasons of school, or perhaps when the workload isn’t CN-Tower high, it definitely pays to cook for yourself. (Warning, math-filled part coming up)
Imagine, if you will, that one serving of pasta is 56g, 110-130g if it’s the only dish. Consider the approximate average price of a few 2 pound packs of fettucine pasta (around $3; ~16 servings) at NoFrills, compared to pack of 18 eggs ($4) and a 5 pound bag of all-purpose flour ($2). Now, I’ll spare you the exact math as it depends on personal preference, but approximately 3 eggs and 2¼ cups of flour will get you about 6 servings of pasta. Using that as reference, 5 pounds of flour gets you around 18.14 cups, or enough to do the recipe 6 times over (36 servings, per 18 eggs and 5 pounds of flour). That means you can potentially make 36 servings of pasta for the price of $6, compared to around 16 servings of pasta for $3. Now, the serving size and price fluctuates depending on the person eating it, and current market price (and sales) – but nonetheless, if you have the time and ingredients, it is usually cheaper to make your own pasta with the investment of a pasta machine. (By the way, can I re-emphasize the importance of a pasta machine?)
I’ve been asked, “How will you ever survive on your own?” a countless amount of times (for a number of reasons, most recently my newfound ritual of accidentally running into doors, and turning into walls before I can open it fully, or round the corner respectively). But more often than not, it was a matter of sustenance and being able to provide for a basic human need. I don’t proclaim to be the next Taylor Swift of music, but I can easily say (and provide evidence) that I am fully capable of cooking meals for myself and others given the ingredients. While I may be a student and without even a part-time job at the moment, it speaks for itself, that once I make enough money to pay for more of my own groceries, I’d be able to put them to good, nutritious, and delicious use.
Learning to cook is not only a fast-track to independence, but it’s also something you can take with you everywhere. Humanity needs nutrition to survive, so why not learn an essential skill and find enjoyment while you do it?