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o the Myth of the Bad Cook
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a glossary of basic cooking methods

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the myth of the BAD cook |  1 2
continued from page 2

Having conquered your fear of being a bad cook, fight the temptation to fall back on either of the two biggest excuses self-labeled "bad cooks" use for not cooking -- lack of time and boredom. "I’m too busy to cook" is a convenient rationalization, but the fact of the matter is this: in the 20 minutes or so it would take you to call up and order your favorite take-out and have it delivered to your doorstep, you can easily toss together a simple and delicious pasta for a fraction of the cost. Good food doesn’t have to be elaborate food. Simplicity can yield tastebud miracles.

Boredom, on the other hand, is what happens when you get stuck into cooking only those dishes that you know will turn out well. Invest in a good beginner’s cookbook, such as Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, The Joy of Cooking (by Irma S. Bombauer, et al) or the Fanny Farmer Cookbook (by Marion Cunningham, et al), and start testing new dishes. These books are ideal for the novice cook -- with their encyclopedic scope and attention to basic techniques, you’ll find more easy-to-follow recipes than you could test in a lifetime. Keep in mind, though, that while a recipe can be useful, you should think of it as an inspiration rather than as a formula. Let cooking become a creative, impromptu act, and you’ll find you enjoy it much more. The key to becoming a more spontaneous cook: Learn the basic techniques rather than trying to memorize specific recipes. Become familiar with a technique like how to sauté garlic in olive oil, and you’ll find that there’s an infinite variety of pasta dishes you can make by making simple additions and substitutions. You’ll feel much more comfortable with casually throwing together a meal out of whatever you happen to have in the fridge, making the act of cooking seem more relaxed and fun.

The bad cook excuse is a flimsy one, at best, for failing to learn one of life’s most essential and rewarding skills. I don’t care if you grew up eating spaghetti-o’s and tv dinners, or if you’re twenty-three and have never cooked a meal in your life … no one is born a bad cook. Refuse to cook, and you’ll certainly find the task a chore on those rare occasions where you’re forced to do so. Learn to cook, and you’ll discover that you love it, and that you’re probably pretty good at it. The choice seems simple: Just get yourself into the kitchen, and start cooking now.

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