Making cooking fun (again): 3 tips

How do you ensure that cooking doesn’t become a daily obligation that has to be done as fast as possible? We share three tips on how to make it a pleasurable experience.

1. The importance of a list

For journalist Racheda Kooijman, the pleasure of cooking starts with shopping. “These days I no longer have a list with me that I scrawled in a hurry while scouring my cabinets to see what’s in them. Now, I sit down and calmly write my list and only include items that I really need. And if I don’t have a list with me at all, then I let myself be inspired once I’m in the supermarket. And I don’t mean I’ll just grab what’s on special offer and invent a quick wok dish around it; I mean I’ll take everything in and ask myself ‘What do I really fancy eating’.”

2. Cooking with the seasons

Figuring out what you need for your recipe and then not being able to adapt the ingredients is a shame. After all, bacon is not a great substitute for pancetta (Italian belly bacon). Just as matured cheese is not the same as Gruyère. But if you opt to cook ‘in season’, then you’re more likely to find the ingredients you need. For example, a good tomato (organic or from your own vegetable garden) makes your meal; something that a ‘standard tomato’ from the supermarket couldn’t come close to doing. So choose to cook simple meals, but with the best products. Pasta with homemade pesto, real old Parmesan cheese and pine nuts from Italy (not cheap, so just use less) may not look that impressive, but boy does it taste good.

3. The process

When it comes to cooking, it’s not just the end goal that counts, but also the process. This should also be a pleasurable experience, says Kooijman. “I deliberately grab an onion and have fun picking its outer layer off. I smell the fragrant garlic for a while, before I press it and throw it in the pan, and I cut the vegetables with care. When everything is in the pan and is starting to simmer nicely, that’s the best moment because that’s when I start stirring. The end is in sight, because it can be seen and smelled. The pan contains the result of my efforts and that gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. stirring the contents of that pan ensures that I don’t have fifty-odd thoughts passing through my mind. My head is clear and I feel a warm sense of homeliness: What more could I want?”

  • These tips were first published in the Dutch Flow Weekly.

Text Caroline Buijs, Translation Julia Gorodecky, Photography Becca Tapert