Where To Begin

Jan 24, 2018 | Food and Culture

I talk a lot about how important it is for people to be able to cook and feed themselves. I give lots of tips and tricks that can save you time and money in the kitchen. I talk about a lot of aspects of cooking that can help you but I seem to be missing one or two key pieces. The first and most important thing that I feel like I haven’t covered enough is where people should start. If I’ve sold you on the idea of cooking being important, and you’re ready but you have zero experience, where should you start? Where is the best place to begin?

Cooking is like just about anything else in life you try to learn, if you don’t enjoy the subject matter, you are not going to be invested. Cooking is also slightly unique in that if you are learning math, after a lesson all you have is some full pages, with cooking after a lesson you have a plate of food. If you don’t want to eat that food what is the point of cooking it? I think the best place to start your culinary journey is to choose five things that you love to eat and learn to cook them really well. It doesn’t matter what these things are. It doesn’t matter how simple or complicated they may seem. Success is the greatest motivator in life. Find success in cooking with a few dishes, simple or complicated and this will motivate you to learn more.

Being able to cook five things really well will give you a foundation on top of which you can start to construct your culinary knowledge. As I have said many times, the more you cook the more you will develop your love of cooking. This is true because the more you cook the more you learn, the quicker you become at it, and the easier it becomes.

What five things should you learn to cook? I have no idea. This really is up to you. Your list will looks a lot different than my list, and a lot different than your best friend’s. It really should be things that you love to eat. If you don’t really like something it is going to be hard for you to learn to love to cook it. Choosing things that you already love will make it fun for you, it may also save you some money in the long run because you won’t have to buy it every time you get a craving. Your five things will reflect your tastes and your preferences, and will be different than anybody else’s. So, what do you love to eat? What are your five favourite dishes? Do you love pizza? Pad thai? Gnocchi? Whatever it is you can learn to cook it, and you should.

If I were starting out today, had never really cooked anything before and read this what would be the five things that I would choose to learn to cook?

  1. Corn Chowder
  2. Shepherd’s Pie
  3. Split Pea Soup
  4. Pizza
  5. Bolognese Sauce (Meat Sauce)

I would choose these five things because these are five of my favourite things to eat. They are all fairly simple but they teach me a decent array of skills. What are your five?

Once you chose the five things you want to learn to cook you need to seek information. Use the internet or cookbooks to find recipes but be aware that the recipes you find may not match the image you have in your head of your dish. What I mean is that there are thousands of recipes for butter chicken, some of them taste like what I believe butter chicken tastes like, some of them don’t. When I follow one of the recipes that doesn’t match what I want it can lead to the perception of failure. Really though, you have just learned that this recipe is not the one you want and you can move on to the next. Eventually, you can read recipes and figure out if it will match what you want or not.

It takes time to master anything, even the most simple dish. Be patient, enjoy the process, and surprise yourself. Even though nine butter chicken recipes in a row might not be the one you want, when you hit that thenth, when you make perfect butter chicken after months of trial and error, you will be intensely proud of yourself and your accomplishment, and so you should be.

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