I cook therefore I am.
As someone who loves to cook (and bake), I can’t imagine life without those activities. Even if I had the money to eat out all the time (which I most certainly don’t), restaurant meals wouldn’t satisfy my cravings and the satisfaction I get from deciding what to make and then making it happen. I don’t survive on cereal, yogurt, and pre-packaged food because I can’t imagine living within those limits – any more than I can imagine what it would be like to look outside, but never venture beyond my front door.
Admittedly, my kitchen adventures can go to extremes, but even preparing and sitting down to a simple dish or a modest meal can push my happiness meter right through the roof. I don’t consider it selfish to admit that I love cooking for myself (Joe Yonan, I’m with you), just much as I love cooking for others.
Of course there are benefits to cooking for family and friends, not to mention the fun of eating with them. Especially if they are well mannered and free with compliments, the appreciation factor is not to be underestimated. No matter how much they express their interest in the meal (or if they don’t), I do get satisfaction watching someone finish up a plateful of my food or help themselves to seconds. But even if I never had another person to cook for, I would still cook.
But for those who aren’t food-obsessed, why cook is a more difficult question. Cooking takes time and so does shopping. Home cooked meals require planning, if only to get all the proper ingredients for specific dishes or at least enough food to stock the refrigerator and pantry if you don’t pick the recipes ahead of time. Cooking also requires at least a modest amount of equipment, and a bit of patience too, with a small dollop of skills thrown in.
So there are many reasons – or excuses – not to cook.
As motivations go, “it’s good for you” rarely works for me. But it does for lots of people. I’m in awe of those folks – from the admirable ones who diet because they should to the dedicated gym rats who exercise because they want to keep themselves healthy.
And it turns out that if “it’s good for you” motivates you, then you should cook. It will help you live longer according to a recent study. Or, as the study so quaintly put it “Cooking behavior favourably predicts survivorship.” Sure the study was of seniors in Taiwan and it’s not clear (at least to me) which came first – the study participants cooking, shopping, and food preparation or their good health and increased longevity. But in either event, the conclusion makes eminent sense.
If you shop for food, prepare it and sit down to eat, you are taking care of yourself. And if you take care of yourself, your physical and emotional health are likely to be better. If you are healthy physically and emotionally, you are likely to live longer.
Whether you think the study is well constructed or not, whether you agree with its conclusions or think it only merits further study, wouldn’t you like to be around to find out if the conclusions are right – and wouldn’t you like to eat great food that you have prepared in the meantime?
Happy eating – and cooking!