In this Chicago Tribune article, author Judy Hevrdejs reflects on the idea of cooking as a stress reliever. Its physicality is soothing, it’s an escape from the real world and the results are “like magic.”
If I’d read this article a few months ago, I would have laughed. There’s nothing soothing about running to the next room to gasp out questions, hurriedly chopping ingredients while the rest of your meal overcooks or realizing that the broiler has just set your baguettes on fire.
Even today, I still have days when I’m three steps behind, two ingredients short, and one second from the pot boiling over. However, that frenzied activity can whisk me away from the stresses and responsibilities of everyday life.
Hevrdejs argues that new recipes are particularly helpful because the hustle and bustle stops your mind from drifting to other responsibilities.
We might fret over an earlier embarrassment while absentmindedly chopping onions, but more complicated tasks demand a cook’s mental presence. Measuring ingredients, following directions and judging food’s readiness all require focus.
Additionally, cooking is so much more forgiving than the outside world. A missing spice or substituted ingredient will rarely be noticed. A near drop of a pan can go unmentioned and unjudged. A complete failure can be binned and forgotten.
As Julia Child once said, “You are alone in the kitchen, and nobody can see you.”