Before I begin, let me get something out of the way: I know I’m not breaking any new ground (nor am I attempting to) when I shout “homemade is better!!!!” from the rooftops. Everyone with functioning tastebuds (sorry, Ageusiacs) knows that there’s something deeply satisfying about a meal that is prepared for you specifically; be it made by you, Mom, Dad, Nonna, your significant other, a French rat…and so on.
That said, as I have aged into the young adult body I possess and tolerate, I’ve noticed that quite an alarming number of my peers look at a set of kitchen gizmos and are rendered utterly helpless. A smooth glaze of intraocular fluid wipes across their corneas as they realize the only recognizable item in the kitchen is the spatula from that one time they tried to make a fried egg at 3am after a cousin’s wedding.
Most millennials I know unfortunately find two bowls of Special K and a Pop-Tart a much more appealing supper than preparing an easy 10 minute stir-fry. Not too long ago, I would have shared a subscription to that school of thought, but thankfully I discovered the plethora of good that comes along for the trip when you learn how to cook. And that discovery changed my life.
It started when I made my first apple pie for a family Thanksgiving. I found it combined many outlets of the human spirit — working with the hands; i.e. shaping the dough, chopping the apples, making the lattice, etc — as well as the artistic part; i.e. adding spices, dusting with cinnamon sugar, presenting at the table.
Not only did the pie receive high praise, but it tasted damn good, and the satisfaction of creating something which brought intrinsic worth to the world through nourishment and happiness was a feeling I immediately became hooked on. Next came casseroles, soups, roasts, cakes, breads and entrees. I could show my love for others by cooking for them, and I could keep my health and nerves in check by cooking for myself. I had found a hobby and a skill that filled many voids in my life, and it made me truly happy for the first time in a long time. (Too sappy? Deal with it). I was excited about food, healthier than ever and confident in a true life skill.
It is with this anecdotal nugget of a story that I urge my fellow young adults to learn a trade that will benefit them and those who are close to them in cornucopian fashion. Learn how to cook. Learn how to bake. Learn the difference between a steak knife and a chefs knife. Learn that yes—a homemade quiche that takes an hour shared with your goon squad is definitely a better option than takeout rib meat in a plastic jar with some milky congealed fat at the bottom.
Looking for a hobby? This is one of the best. It takes time, dedication, and focus—but has potentially huge recompense. Trying to impress a cute fellow humanoid? There is almost nothing sexier than knowing how to cook well. A sauced-up apron looks better on a person than any high fashion ever will.
So, charming reader, please: start watching your grandma cook, spend a day chopping a shitload of onions, and do everyone a favor by learning at least the basics of cookery. After you successfully prepare your first homemade dish of any kind, I’m willing to bet that you’ll be joining me on the rooftops in joyful, allegorical proclamation.
Be sure to check out what Spoon University has to offer to begin your culinary journey! Some great reads to get started: