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  • Damaris Chanza

Discovering the Importance of a Home Cooked Meal

Famous chef Auguste Gusteau's motto, is "anyone can cook." It turns out he was right.

I endeavored on a food journey during the pandemic and have documented some of my experiences here. My boyfriend and I watched cooking videos, ate new foods, and practiced new cooking techniques. This journey started as safe at-home dates to do during a global pandemic and turned into a fundamental change in diet and lifestyle.

Usually, my boyfriend and I only spend a day or two together, then are separated by distance for over a week. Such sparse time together meant a lot of eating out and only cooking one meal together. However, recently, we have been lucky enough to spend more time together because we moved in together. Now we eat most meals together, and cooking is more of a necessity than it is a fun date. More often than not, we don't even cook together anymore.

Our fun dates taught us skills that have become integral to our coexistence. Ratatouille's Gusteau claimed anyone can cook, and if a rat can do it, I guess so can I. I've made tomato soup from scratch. I've made fried rice, pico de gallo, and honey butter pancakes. He made garlic butter shrimp linguini and homemade meatballs. Every meal we've eaten has been delicious. This may not seem like a lot to some people, but it's more than we were able to do before the pandemic.

I was eating out so often I didn't have the best diet. Not knowing how to cook made cooking feel like a chore. It took too much time, and since I lacked the skills to do it well, the food didn't taste that great in the end. The effort was not worth the result.

But now, I have the skills, and everything doesn't feel so hard. I can make myself a good quality meal that tastes good and has nutritional value. I learned to incorporate more vegetables into my diet while masking their flavor. I've learned to listen to my body to determine when I'm hungry.

I don't want to make it seem like I'm an iron chef because I'm definitely not. My knife skills are still reasonably mediocre but improving. The rice was sticky, the meatballs were dense, the pico de gallo didn't taste right, the garlic bread was partially burned. Here's the critical difference though. My knowledge of food and cooking techniques allows me to explain what caused these deviations. The rice had too much oil, the meatballs didn't have a binder, the pico de gallo needed some vinegar, the garlic bread needed to be in the air fryer for less time. Each failure resulted in a learning experience and a funny story.

Having the skills and knowledge to make something I like makes me excited to cook and learn more. It doesn't feel so time-consuming and laborsome. Learning to cook is now more than a skill but a lifestyle change. I realized how monotonous my previous diet was. I could only make a few meals, so I was stuck eating those things. Now, my repertoire has broadened, and I can dabble in many different types of cuisine. My meals are a bit more dynamic in execution.

My food journey has changed my life and is probably one of the few good things that emerged from the pandemic. I am eager to continue on my journey and share my experiences. Hopefully, it'll inspire someone else to begin their journey. I highly suggest starting your food journey if you haven't already. If you're hesitant, start small by making a meal you're familiar with. If you're bold enough, try recreating restaurant meals you enjoy. Ultimately, your food journey is your own.

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