As I mentioned in Part 1, the personal benefits of cooking are significant. Learning how to cook benefits you by allowing you to learn to manage your time and financials more efficiently, and further declares your independence through your newfound self-sustainability. However, there are also many mutual benefits of cooking for those around you that I hope will convince all food lovers to take up this simple hobby.
Perhaps, cooking for yourself is a coming of age/maturity ceremony in and of itself. I can’t forget how I felt the first time I cooked my own meal for myself. Back then it was very simple – scrambled eggs, with a bit of salt and pepper and some milk tea.
But along with the simple dish (admittedly, a bit burnt and over-seasoned) was a sensation of pride, knowing that I had opened my eyes to a new world of innovation and excitement with a hobby that rewards you with something you can eat right after. The first time I made fries meant broadened the choices of what I could make from a simple stir-fry rice, to grilled fish and chips. I don’t own a fryer, so making my own fries was a significant achievement to me. After the fries, I went for a classic hamburger and fries, topped with bacon, guacamole, and caramelized onions, stuffed with cheese – accompanied by a generous serving of crispy fries (yet soft on the inside!), and a hearty bowl of clam chowder (okay fine, that was canned). It took me hours of prep and cooking time, but it was so worth it. As I finally sat down in front of my computer to watch the latest episode of Kitchen Nightmares while I ate, I remember staring down at my creation and reward of some hard work.
I did this. I made this.
Till now I still haven’t perfected (to my taste) the burger. I apologize and dedicate this post to my friends who I’ve enticed over to my kitchen to try my latest monstrosity, to which some may have ended in stomach aches or food comas.
I’m still trying with different ingredients and cooking methods, but that’s where half the fun is – there’s always room for innovation and invention in the food world!
- Cooking for Others
It’s absolutely satisfying to stare at your self-cooked meal and enjoy the reward of your hard work. However, it’s also supremely satisfying to cook meals for others. Ego aside, it gives me a reason to have people over, or to just hang-out and chill. It gives me a reason to have social gatherings once in a while to catch up with old friends, that doesn’t require a karaoke lounge, or a movie, or some expensive drinks and dinner at the closest 居酒屋 (izakaya; basically an informal Japanese gastropub).
Not only does it give me the same sensation of adventure and satisfaction as it does when cooking for myself, but to get to cook for others’ enjoyment and bring happiness and nutrition to them is possibly one of the most satisfying things yet. I’m always trying to learn new things to cook and get my friends to try it. It’s not about the food – it’s about the food bringing the people together.
Yet, there’s also another aspect to consider. Consider the gluten-intolerant, vegetarian, vegan, lactose-intolerant, etcetera, friend; or those with allergies to certain foods, or certain ailments. Whether it is foods you should avoid, or seek out, cooking food specifically for these friends is far from a hassle, but it’s my way of showing care and appreciation to them. Everyone needs a little consideration or appreciation, and this is just one way I can attempt to display that.
When it comes to healthy eating, calorie counting, or anything of the like, self-cooking is perhaps the paramount skill you could equip yourself with. No matter what or the reasons behind any dietary restrictions you may have, or have imposed upon yourself, cooking allows you to know exactly what you eat and if you so choose, your calorie intake. Instead of the typical fast food, or calorie-filled Caesar salad dressing that came with your ‘healthy’ salad, where you’re left happily munching on a glob of tasty junk food with tears streaming down your face as you know just how much you shouldn’t be eating this, you could be creating just as, if not more delicious, meal.
Choosing to omit the dressing, or choosing a healthier ingredient to make your food that wouldn’t be available to you otherwise at your local fast food restaurant, is a simple step you can take to eat healthier.
Let’s get away from the dependence on others, be it family, friends, restaurants, etcetera to make our own sustenance. There are many cheap and delicious, satisfying yet healthy, but more importantly, simple and non-time consuming ways to cook, and if those aren’t good enough reasons to learn – how many other hobbies reward you with food upon completion?