Cooking at home: just a hobby?

Today, on a blog about MBAs (of all places to discuss cooking), I read a most horrifying comparison: cooking, like home improvement, is become a popular “do-it-yourself” activity. Josh Kaufman goes on to say:

“Sure, you can take courses in interior design or culinary arts, but it’s becoming increasingly common for people to take matters into their own hands through research and experimentation.

My wife, Kelsey, is a phenomenal cook. She’s never taken a course, but she has an amazing repertoire of skills and knowledge that she’s gained over time through reading and playing around in the kitchen. Every once in a while, a recipe will flop (vegan macaroni and cheese), but that’s okay – it’s a learning experience.”

At first, I have to say, I was flat-out offended. A gut reaction, for sure, but doesn’t there just seem to be something wrong with calling cooking a trend?

If we time travel and say that “back in the day” (read: 1700s/1800s/early 1900s) everyone cooked for themselves, one could argue that people also used to churn their own better. And make their own houses. Point taken.

But if we look at the more recent and comparable past, the 50s and 60s for instance, cookie-cutter suburban cul-de-sacs were constructed en masse and refrigerators and freezers were commonplace. Cooking was not strictly a “necessity” and tv dinners began to take off.

However – did the majority of people still cook for the large part of their meals? Yes! I know that over time, inexpensive fast food options have become more and more prevalent, but many other countries have a striving street food culture and still value home-cooking as the core, basic way of eating.

Though my initial reaction to this post may have been a bit rash, at the heart of Kaufman’s statement lies an important fact: a large number of Americans do not cook their own food on a regular basic (some barely ever in their whole lives!).

I believe that is the real trend here. And it is a highly disturbing one at that.