Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why I cook

A great blogger/food author I follow on Twitter, Michael Ruhlman, has inspired a flurry of posts about why folks cook, so here's mine.

Why do I cook? (thought it's really more, why am I learning to cook - have only been at it 5 or 6 years, really 2 or 3 seriously)
  • First and foremost, I absolutely love food. I love delicious food, spicy food, savoury food, and sweets. 
  • Not to knock my parents, but they have a much milder palate than I do. By 14 or 15, I was craving full-bodied flavors that went beyond the normal repertoire in our house.
  • After spending a summer in Korea and working part-time in the kitchen of an unwed birth mothers' home, I now frequently cook Korean food. I'm adopted - so there aren't a lot of aspects of my life that are "legit" Korean, but I consider food to be one of them. Cooking, and learning to cook Korean (which, oddly has mostly taken place via the Internet -- there are fantastic Korean cooking video blogs out there), is a way for me to stay connected with a heritage I might not otherwise have. 
  • My parents were never big "processed foods" types. I didn't experience Mac and Cheese out of a box until I was probably 10 or 11. I didn't even know mashed potaotes CAME in a box until a year or two after that. This continues to be the case - I make my own pasta sauce, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, taco seasoning - among other things. I try to rely on fresh foods and more importantly, real foods. 
  • I'm poor. Cooking at home means I can pack a lunch 5 days a week -- without relying on PBJ sandwiches and potato chips (which, I'm not really a huge fan of anyway, much less than every day!). In high school, I worked a lot over the dinner hour and quickly tired of relying on drive through BK or a Subway run, so started getting creative with the leftovers in my parents' house. 
  • Cooking is also very social. I think some people have this horrendous, out-of-date image of housewives slaving away in the kitchen -- ALONE. For me, cooking is about sharing food with the people you love, and learning and exploring new meals together. 
So, when I look back over the past two years or so, there have been really dramatic changes in the way I eat, because of the way I cook. My cooking style ranges week to week - sometimes I'll try something that approaches the level of gourmet and fancy, other times we eat fajitas and bulgogi most of the week. I like to make dishes that are unexpected - like red velvet cupcakes, carbonara or a Korean dish -- and share them with friends who might not have otherwise tried them. And I am SO thankful for the Internet for providing me with the resources to learn to cook.

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