Lockdown chefs are just a flash in the pan

“You can’t become a cook because you’re bored, you have got to love it.”

A few months ago there was a sizeable percentage of the population, particularly amongst my peers, who took great pleasure in telling the world that they are shit in the kitchen. ‘It’s just too long’…’The missus is the chef, I just do the washing up’…’I’ve just never had the patience to learn’ , were amongst some of the responses I got when I asked friends and acquaintances what was for dinner. These responses are fine, by the way, I don’t know how to dj or how to tie sailing knots and that’s fine too, I’m not a sailor or a dj. The same goes for our culinarily-challenged friends, they are probably much better at some stuff and well done them. Then along came lockdown…

I’m not sure what it is about being cooped up with your significant other, a cohort of housemates or the family for the first time in decades, but all of a sudden the entire nation is chomping at the bit to bake, preserve, roast, stew and brew. Those who did not know their kombucha scoby from their sourdough starter are now considering small artisan enterprises (only delivering within a one kilometre radius) and may never return to the 9-5, instead just hire a railway arch in E9 somewhere and bake themselves into oblivion.

Don’t get me wrong, the return to a simpler way of life is what environmentalists and their followers have been preaching for years and the lockdown has certainly forced us all to change our behaviour and given us time to consider which of these changes we may want to keep post-lockdown. This is all great, we have finally been given a break from the relentless churn of modern life and forced to consider an alternative way of being, however don’t think because you can’t leave the same confined space as your oven that you now have some deep connection with it. As soon as quarantine is over and more convenience returns to our lives, these fledgling cooks will all lose interest in the culinary arts and look for new distractions. What I am trying to say, I suppose, is that a love of food can’t materialise and be sustained by boredom.

In the 2007 Michael Giacchino film, Ratatouille, the tale of a sewer-rat called Remy who wants to become a famous chef, Auguste Gusteau, a dead French chef and Remy’s idol, wrote a book called ‘Anyone Can Cook‘, a mantra that is repeated throughout the film until Remy and his new pals open their own restaurant in Paris. I am glad this book only exists in the land of fantasy because I couldn’t disagree more, not anyone can cook. You can’t become a cook because you’re bored, you have got to love it. Taste has such deep-rooted emotional connections, it evokes the earliest of memories, it comforts the most bruised of souls, it is powerful and is not to be tampered with. Cooking, I’m afraid, is not just a flash in the pan.

Ratatouille: ‘Anyone Can Cook’ watch clip here.

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