In a land of too many activities, convenience foods and never being ‘off’ from work thanks to our devices (or vices), cooking has fallen by the wayside. It takes too long, requires skills we only see on tv and requires thought and planning. I will say, one of the most enjoyable side effects to our conversion to a Real Food/ancestral/paleo diet has been learning to be the queen of my domain in the kitchen.
First, I’m not afraid to fail (just listen to my kids detailing the time I made mashed cauliflower completely inedible by adding to much garlic). I also like to learn and expand my culinary skills, whether by trial and error or sitting at the kitchen in a restaurant. Third, it is difficult to eat out and still follow this way of eating. Learning to cook became a necessity, but it also became my therapy. It gave me some level of control over how adventurous we ate since it wasn’t really my decision to eat this way. Taking our food into my own hands gave me desire to push my boundaries.
I really was able to put words to my feelings after listening to Michael Pollan’s audiobook Cooked. Becoming aware of how your food was prepared, taking the time to understand what goes into that whole hog barbecue or fermentation of vegetables adds a level of appreciation and willingness to try new things. There is pure artistry in the creation of a braised one-pot dish or a block of cheese. When you can look at food as a way to nourish your family, pass along your heritage, keep them healthy and create not only an openness to new flavors, but also new conversations, a fast food meal seems to cheapen the experience.
I was fortunate to start my children young before they had too many bad habits and their minds were pliable to learning (my 4 year old son came home today counting to 10 in French, their brains are amazing!). So, yes, they cannot stand macaroni and cheese or chicken fingers. As a side dish to their hamburger, they selected brussels sprouts over french fries. But they are learning to appreciate genuine flavor that is not created in a lab. They see what goes into preparing a meal and appreciate (and eat) what we put in front of them.
Go ahead and give cooking a try. Start small with a simple chili, crock pot meal or just roast some vegetables in the oven. With each attempt, you will become more confident, daring and perhaps even offer to bring more than a store bought pie to the next pot luck! You can do it!