When I was a kid, I had the kind of mother who would make cooking a big family event. We'd all get stuck in, slicing potatoes, cracking eggs, whipping up some unholy concoction in a bowl bigger than our heads. It was a great environment and soon the kitchen became a place of real community and laughter. The only time arguments occurred was when we were baking and everyone wanted to lick the batter out of the bowl at the end. There was a strict rota system for bowl-licking and an even stricter system when we happened to be making brownies (the rule was mommy gets to lick out the bowl).
This meant that whenever a meal was being made, we’d know that we could go to our mother, help out with the cooking and talk about whatever was in our hearts and minds. I say “we” because there were lots of us. I come from a family of 4 children - which might not seem a lot these days compared to some people’s hoards of children - but at the time, 4 children was a lot, particularly as both my parents worked full-time. Food was our way of connecting as a family.
However, as I get older, I find that I’m not quite the super chef as my mother was. I’m clumsy, always in a rush and hard pushed to follow a recipe. This means that my food is often subpar. Maybe if I started using the stop clock on my phone to actually time things I might not always burn the dinner but still, despite my foodie heritage, I’m not actually that agile in the kitchen.
So are kitchen skills a matter of nature or nurture? By that I mean, will my lack of grace and experimental attitude always be reflected in my cooking or can I train these less appetising character traits out of the kitchen?
I was waxing lyrical with a friend about these thoughts and the next day, she emailed me a fun little quiz called “What Type of Cook Are You?” I scored the incredibly apt result “Too Busy Lizzy.”
“While good food is really important to you," the quiz cautioned, "your home life, work life and social life all too often mean that time is of the essence and sometimes there just don't seem enough hours in the day to pull out the pans." Quite. But how did my mom manage it with a full time job, 4 children, 2 dogs and a happy (still surviving) marriage?
Perhaps she really is a super hero. That’s the only answer. Or maybe life was simpler then? Without the constant distractions of modernity. After all, my mom never had to reserve time to update her blog, tweet about her latest parenting faux pas, pin a picture of a fantasy-themed children’s nursery to her “Home Ideas” board, answer someone’s stain-related query on Mumsnet or pick the perfect filter for her Instagram post of a flat white. This must have freed up a lot of time for perfecting her cooking skills.
So has the internet made me a Too Busy Lizzy?
What do you score on the quiz and do you think it’s true to self? Do you think cooking skills are nature or nurture and has the internet changed the way you manage your time?