Finding Meaning in Cooking

I don’t like cooking. That’s somewhat paradoxical, given how I like good food as much as the next guy. And the richer, the better too. It’s just that good food requires too much effort.

I remember a friend’s mum who decided to gift him on his birthday with a three-course intimate lunch for ten. The meal was utterly delightful, the conversation as animated as you could desire, and the entire affair an unforgettable collision of fun and meaning.

I’d arrived early, as she was putting finishing touches to her culinary masterpiece (she was creating pure art right there!), and I’d asked how I could help. There wasn’t much left to do, she said (which was good, because I’m really about as useful in a kitchen as a baby elephant) but I could stay and keep her company.

That was more my thing, so I readily obliged. She was in great spirits, and chatted happily about the various ingredients (did I know how hard it was to find really fresh cucumber in Lagos?), shared her cooking secrets (if you wanted best results, you had to roast the chicken just so) and told tales of her glory days (being older significantly hampered your ability to whip up these feats).

But through it all, I couldn’t get over the thought that all her work – it had taken her hours, and all by herself too (itself another feat) – would go down in maybe 30 minutes. It just didn’t seem worth it.

While I secretly pondered this gross disproportionateness in cooking, it struck me it was was really the same with all art. This post took me hours of thought and writing. It takes you – what, five minutes? – to read. A choreography can take weeks to prepare and it’s executed in minutes. A blockbuster movie is the fruit of long months and we run through it in just a couple hours.

The only reason it seemed too long a time to spend cooking was that my interest was limited to the result of cooking, and not in the art itself. But in my preferred art, writing, I have no such reservations.

Because – and here’s the point – creating is its own reward.

What things do you consider not worth the effort? And in what things do such questions not even come up?

Be heard – leave a comment!

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2 thoughts on “Finding Meaning in Cooking

  1. I’m glad u see the light, and u haven’t even touched the half of it.

    I made bitterleaf soup for Ghanaian colleagues the other day, and I thought to myself – they’ll never know how much effort it took to prepare this, but if it turns out right, that’ll be good enuf for me.

    Does this mean u’re cooking for us next time? Ola, please take note, and follow suit :p


  2. Hey, Chinenye, sorry I’m just replying this comment. (Nice to see you around here, by the way.) I guess I should have realised this was sure to resonate with you! I’m glad for people like you though — people who make an art form of catering to one of man’s most basic needs.

    Does that mean I’m cooking? No way! 🙂


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