Cooking Is a Great Hobby, But It's Just a Hobby

What Women Really Think
March 1 2010 6:10 PM

Cooking Is a Great Hobby, But It's Just a Hobby


Amanda , I agree with you that cooking can be a great pleasure. It's messy, it's creative, and there are few things more empowering than the realization that, if the can opener has disappeared, you can get into a can of tomato sauce with an ice pick and a hammer.


But like Margaret , I'm fed up with the legions of foodies who don't just enjoy their time in the kitchen but feel the need to order everyone else to get in there with them. There's a sense among some urbanites that it's virtually impossible to live the good life if your body isn't fueled at all times by organic food carefully selected at the local farmers' market and lovingly prepared in a kitchen stocked with only the best extra-virgin olive oil Whole Foods has to offer.

Thanks to the abundance of cheap, easy-to-prepare food, cooking-at least the kind that requires kneading or julienning or salting eggplant -is a hobby, not a prerequisite for survivial. And it's a great hobby for those who enjoy it. But its practitioners hold forth about its inherent goodness in a way that few other hobbyists do. When was the last time you heard a scrapbooker earnestly telling a colleague that if she didn't get herself to the local scrapbook-supply store right away, she was condemning herself and her progeny to a lifetime of ill health, low energy, and inusfficient appreciation for the finer things in life? How many comic book fans work to turn nonreaders into disciples of their favorite series? They don't. They hang out with other people who share their passions, but they don't lay claim to the moral high ground just by virtue of their preferred leisure activities.

I don't think there's a moral difference between spending a free hour curled up with a good book and a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich and spending that hour slicing and dicing your way through dinner preparations. Yet, thanks to Michael Pollan , Morgan Spurlock , and Jonathan Safran Foer , food choices have become freighted with so much judgmentalism, self-righteousness, and guilt-tripping that what to have for lunch can feel less like a culinary dilemma than an ethical one. But the purpose of food is to fuel our bodies, not save our souls, and I think a stop at Five Guys should be followed by a long walk or a light dinner, not confession and absolution.

Photograph of Mark Bittman by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images Entertainment.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 1:52 PM Julian Casablancas’ New Album Sounds Like the Furthest Thing From the Strokes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.