I have a love affair with food.
To me, food makes the world go round. It truly fascinates me. I’ve been cooking for a long time. My first paid cooking job was as a cook at a restaurant in my home town in Ohio. I was 19 years old and working as the only cook in the kitchen in the evenings. Sometimes I had help, but most of the time, I was on my own.
That job taught me a lot about cooking, working in a kitchen, and time management. I made a lot of mistakes. Being a meat and potato establishment, I ruined a few steaks by cooking them to the wrong internal temp (oh no!).
But I persevered and from that job I realized that I wanted to become a chef. I wanted to study food and cooking. I wanted to learn more about what makes food great. Most importantly, I wanted to become a better cook.
Since that time, I noticed we’ve had a war on food and cooking. Innovations in the food industry brought us highly processed food that simply tastes like, well, crap. Over the years, thanks to nutrition science, we’ve had a war on eggs, fat, and carbs. Food gets whittled down into categories where we pit one against the other. Right now, the bad guy is sugar. Of course it is. Consuming vast amounts of refined sugars and carbs have been shown to increase cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Sugar is public enemy #1. I get it. I’m a dietitian, too.
In our war on food, we've also waged a war on cooking. Food needed to be fast and convenient to match our busy lives. The art of cooking has fallen to the way side as we heat up a can of soup and sit down to watch various cooking competitions on the Food Network. Let the chefs do the cooking and we'll be the judge from our sofa.
So, how do we move on from these wars? I’ve written about the goodness and simplicity of real food. Now, I’m writing to encourage everyone to find their inner chef and become curious about the world of food and cooking.
I want everyone to quit putting food into categories of good vs. bad. Ok, I admit, if I were to put any food in the bad pile, it would be anything overly processed. But at the same time, I don’t consider highly processed food to be actual food. They’re more like “food items.” So, let’s stick with food that is real… stuff that grows in the ground, on a tree, or is raised/hunted/fished (animals).
One way to quit putting food into categories is to find your inner chef … become curious about the world of food. Become curious about cooking, in general. Why is it so amazing? Why do we need food? Why do our celebrations center around food? What makes food so special? Why are eggs the perfect food? (Ok, so this is my opinion, but eggs are amazing. Seriously.)
My wish is for everyone reading this to go home tonight and make a home cooked dinner. It can be as simple and straightforward as soup. When you sit down to eat (with your family or friends), think about the journey the food has made to your table. Give thanks for those who grew or raised the food or transformed it into another form (cheese, etc). But then realize that you also helped transform that food into something even better, something nourishing. You are showing your family and/or friends that you care by creating a meal with real food. You cooked something special.
By doing this, you are finding your inner chef. You are beginning to discover how cooking and food are amazing and should be honored and explored.
It all starts with getting off the sofa and entering the kitchen.