It’s okay to hate cooking (really)

Whenever people hear that I collect cookbooks, they logically assume that I love to cook. That is true most days, but not always. There are times when I cannot stomach the thought of chopping a vegetable or stirring a sauce or cleaning up yet another sink full of bowls, so I fire up the oven and pop in a frozen pizza or pick up the phone and call for takeout. Does this mean I have to turn in my ‘foodie’ credentials? Not at all, says Adam Liaw, who reminds us that it is okay to hate cooking.

Liaw says that while “foodie” culture (I think we both share a dislike of that word) has helped people appreciate food more, there is a downside. When where, what, and how you eat becomes overly important, the practical aspects of cookery can be lost. Spending too much time on any one subject, even cooking, is not healthy. And it is fine if some days you don’t feel like making anything and eat a PB&J sandwich while standing over the sink so you don’t have any dishes to wash.

That is the part of Liaw’s argument that resonated the most with me – the monotony of the cleanup. “I hate the Sisyphean cycle of cleaning up a kitchen mess, just to make it all over again,” he laments. On most evenings, one of the last things I do before retiring (to read a cookbook before going to bed, of course) is make sure that the kitchen is tidy. But last night I glared at the pans, plates and glasses piled in the sink, turned out the lights and went straight to bed. The dishes weren’t going anywhere, and I had had enough. And that was okay.

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  • goodfruit  on  November 16, 2020

    I understand. Even though I cook mostly from scratch and in fact, moderate a group called Cooking From Scratch, we all have those days.

    It’s like “dinner, again?” yep. Or we have no inspiration. When we feel that way we type in the “What’s for dinner?” thread the following:
    Dinner is #ihavenoidea.

    Then I tell DH he needs to stop at Lee’s Teriyaki on the way home.

  • CapeCodCook  on  November 16, 2020

    How do all those pans and dishes and glasses and random spoons pile up so quickly? I know what you mean: you just start off making an innocent dinner and look what happens. The monotony of the nighttime cleanup, indeed. My solution in these times of ennui: Everyone needs a good sleep and tomorrow morning, turn on some happy music and with some hot water and soap, it will all be okay.

  • Lieske89  on  November 17, 2020

    This is me!

  • annmartina  on  November 17, 2020

    After so many challenges the past eight months I hate that I feel uninspired in the kitchen right now. I was having so much fun in the kitchen at the start of this but I’ve gotten really tired. And if I get the urge to bake cookies or something in the afternoon, the thought of doing dishes one more time can be a deal breaker

  • cookbookaddict2020  on  November 17, 2020

    oh, so true. All the smug, judgy “real food” preaching about how “it only takes five minutes to prepare a chicken for roasting and then you just take it out of the oven!” BS is such a lie. The work isn’t in the prep! The prep is easy! The drudgery is in the cleanup.

  • Jenny  on  November 17, 2020

    Lately, I’ve really hated cooking. So busy with work, issues with my son, feeling poorly, and not being organized since we’ve moved TWO years ago — it’s an exercise in frustration. I love to cook when I don’t have anything else to do or I make myself not work for a whole day because for me – the prep, cooking, clean up, serving — it takes HOURS. When I made the pot roast the other day — and made Ottolenghi’s carrot mash and spicy roasted potatoes – that took 3 hours alone – the pot roast took 15 minutes – the two side dishes took 2 hours plus to prep. If only we all had a clean up person….and someone to peel the carrots. 🙂

  • gamulholland  on  November 17, 2020

    When I really don’t feel like cooking, I drag our 14-year-old son into being my sous chef— he chats and makes the time fly, plus he chops stuff. Win-win!

  • FJT  on  November 18, 2020

    I get round those days when I don’t feel like cooking by always having something in the freezer that I can easily reheat. Failing that we can always walk to the village cheese shop and get emergency fondue supplies from the cheese dispensing machine outside the shop (seriously!).

  • Mrs. L  on  November 19, 2020

    I’m with those that kind of hit a cooking burnout after 3 meals a day for months on end. I stopped feeling like I HAD to get a new and different meal on the table every night. More things from the freezer. More simple meals. Less pressure. I’m sure the love of cooking will return at some point.

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