Cook is a Four-Letter Word?


This post is dedicated to my sister, Cycee (pronounced Psyche) and all of you who declare cooking is a four-letter word. First of all, negation is also a relation (in fact, a very strong relationship as Theodor Adorno suggested). So, I want to argue that my sister has a secret love-hate relationship with food. Oh sure…she complains and wails about how cooking is the most horrible torture, usually while she is cooking big pots of chicken curries. But, she sure does like eating (chocolate chip cookies, to be precise). It is not cooking she despises, she despises the compulsion to feed the family, the obligation to have an answer to “what’s for dinner?” It is a classic case of transference. Who doesn’t hate compulsory, guilt laden, obligatory…..anything. Cooking has been falsely accused, I say.

Let’s say that she does in fact “hate” cooking. She is in good company, there are many people who don’t enjoy the process of heat, chopping and stirring. Which is why this blog is about food not cooking. My point is, how you eat is just as meaningful. How and what you order at a restaurant, how you assemble meals from store bought rotisserie chicken, beef brisket or taco meat to make salads, sandwiches…whatever, is effort, is a creative act. I compare her disdain for cooking with my love gardens and my disdain for gardening. Self-righteously judging the preferences of others is not a foodie creed. The point of a foodie community is to share in the enjoyment of food (We can argue about what constitutes food, a la,  Michael Pollen’s Food Rules, but that’s another post).

I could offer “home- assembly” recipes but we all know the difference between a Hungry Jack pancake mix and flour-egg-baking power-sugar- water is not time or effort but comfort and easier clean up. My sister the corporate attorney does not have the mind-space or energy to devote to dinner as event.  She’d rather read a trashy romance novel or watch the Agents of Shield. To her, I say, grab that bag of salad, throw in some store-bought grilled chicken and enjoy. I also want to note that picky eating is different than picky cooking. Picky eating is a judgment against what is offered, while picky cooking is a judgment against oneself. She is never a picky eater and has always been my best taste-tester. She may not like cooking but she’s a wonderful unwilling cook. One of my first fond memories of food is when she made me a breakfast of a fried egg with buttered toast with sugar (cut into little sparkling squares). I blame my love of food, partly on her. Maybe cook is a four letter word like, wait for it…….. Love. I can see her rolling her eyes.

To limit one’s thought about food is a choice. As long as it is deliberate, it is self-aware and philosophical. To her cooking may well be a four-letter word. So be it. Let’s go out for dinner, together. Or, better yet come over and share in my joy of cooking.

Haters and non-haters of cooking alike might enjoy these links:


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