Why is so hard to cook?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by lkscorrea, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. lkscorrea

    lkscorrea

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    Can't boil water
    Hi there! I am a product design student, and I am trying to understand what people think that is hard to do in the kitchen and why. Is cooking something hard to you? Or you think is easy, fun? why? Do you like cooking or dont?
     
  2. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Cooking is not hard if one is interested in cooking and motivated to learn.  Most who are interested and motivated find cooking fun.  Why, because it allows the exercise of creativity and the transformation of raw stuff into tasty and edible items.  It is a good way to keep from starving.  And some items are just a gratuitious and delightful taste sensation.  We all deserve a treat every now and again.

    What I find difficult is finding time to cook (busy, busy schedule) and controlling weight gain.  Flatulance is not a problem for me but I know of others who have that difficulty with some foods they cook.  Wasting food is also a difficulty.  Waste not, want not... yet there are always odd amounts of miscelaneous leftovers that may not get eaten and need to be discarded.  Spice storage is also a challenge.  Spices come in too many different packaging options.  Frustrating.

    But in general cooking is not so hard.

    What does your product design professor think of your survey questions and grammar?  This certainly is a laxidasical way of gathering data.
     
  3. lkscorrea

    lkscorrea

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    First of all, thanks for answering, your opinion is certainly helpful. I am a international student and I am still getting used to english, so please apologize my grammar. This is only one of my data gathering options, and it is a really initial approach to understand how people relate with the cooking process. I am not defining the question to answer design flaws, I am interested in why a huge group of people dont fell interested about cooking, and how can this be incentives, and for this I believe that understanding the arguments from people with experience in cooking is a valid information.

    I have been hearing from different groups that one of the major problems is that people assume that they lack of skills necessary to cook. This definition of skill is something important to me, since I am trying to understand what is hard in the use of the kitchen utensils, and how this can influence the opinion about the entire process. Do you think that the equipments that you use when cooking can influence how you enjoy your time when cooking?

    Thanks again for participating in my data gathering
     
  4. decrotie2004

    decrotie2004

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    I am not a chef, but I do love cooking. I was raised in a house where my parents taught me to cook my own food. I learned to love cooking.

    I think some people do not like cooking because they may have not been raised in a manner where they are allowed to cook alone or even with assistance.

    sometimes it comes down to experience in and exposure to cooking, or lack there of.
     
  5. lkscorrea

    lkscorrea

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    In your opinion, is there any sort of recipe that requires more ability to make? why? what you think that is the most difficult action in the cooking process?
     
  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    It's not the physical aspect of cooking.  It's the expectation set upon yourself, or sometimes, by others.  People look at magazines and see things like lasagna with bolognese and set out thinking the end result is going to be like the stuff they ate at some $40/plate Italian restaurant.  27 pans and a dog with a stomachache later they're still scrubbing the burnt pasta off the bottom of the pan and wondering what happened.

    No more, they eat out from now on.

    People don't realize that all they need to cook anything is salt, pepper, oil, and a heat source.
     
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  7. lkscorrea

    lkscorrea

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    The expectation is a really good point.
    So, lets assume that cooking is actually a simple task, and you only need practice and simple ingredients. Why most of the people still have problems to cook, and by the end of their attempt are "scrubbing the burnt pasta off the bottom of the pan and wondering what happened"? (I really identified myself in this phrase).
    If cooking was just following step by step a recipe, what can be interfering in the kitchen success of so many people?
     
  8. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    What data can you show that indicates that "most of the people still have problems to cook, and by the end of their attempt are scrubbing the burnt pasta off the bottom of the pan and wondering what happened".

    I think this may be a fallicy in your logic.  Most people I know can cook better than that.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  9. lkscorrea

    lkscorrea

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    I dont have any statistical data that can show this by the same way that I dont have any data showing that most of the people know how to cook better than that. I am based in my own experience and in threads of many other forums that I am looking at. There is always people asking tips and complaining about their failed cooking process.
    But my goal is to try to look at all the possibilities. I am not opposing any of the comment because I believe in something or not, I am questioning your answers in the intention of promote an interesting discussion.

    Like, why then there still people that have problems to cook if is a simple task, as following a recipe? If it doesnt relate on the ability, what then? Or if does, what is this cooking ability that lack in a group of people?
     
  10. lkscorrea

    lkscorrea

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    Another question. What do you consider as a really helpful tool that you use in the kitchen? what is your tool that you most like? why? is about the function? shape? material? what object that you have for cooking you believe its the best?
     
  11. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    You should seek data.  Find some, or collect some.  Random observations of internet chatter is not valid.

    Even really good cooks have some problems or recipes which fail.  Just becuase someone fails or asks a questionon teh internet has little do do with their skill.  You simply can't read between the lines like that with any expectationof knowing the truth.
     
  12. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    It's really an exaggeration, I mean 27 pans.  Nobody uses that many.  (do they?)
     
  13. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    "I am not defining the question to answer design flaws,..."

    But since you ask, a really useful tool for me is the "ove-glove".  I like it because it keeps me from burning myself when handling hot pots, pans or trays.  It also allows decent manual dexterity.  But the cooking object that I believe is the best is my tongue -- taste buds, to be exact.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  14. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    I don't know why I'm laughing, but I can't stop!
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
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  15. maryb

    maryb

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    Cooking to me came natural, mom was an okay cook but it was a lot of bland food. I taught myself to cook, ran a BBQ catering business for 5 years(hurt my spine, had to stop, 20 hour days were no longer an option), and in general I enjoy good food and it does not have to be complicated. Lasagna noodles won't stick if you place some of your sauce in the bottom and spread it around as an example. Common sense really.
     
  16. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    There is cooking and there is cooking well. 

    The internet is full of generic cooking and recipes. And lots of it works ok. 

    But to cook well takes more attention to details that are harder to explain, but clear to experienced cooks. This includes prep and dealing with "mess" which many people don't want to do. Nor the time as mentioned above.  Thus the rise of ready meals, and simple reheat options. 

    But really, we're not the ones you should ask. The people you should ask are those who don't cook and or don't eat well. There's a looming problem among the lower income who often buy convenience and snack food from time, social and money pressures. They have more needs to meet than people who enjoy cooking and eating well and devote the time and effort to do it. 

    Of course, there is a catch 22 that the best market has the least income to spend. 

    For the unskilled/uninterested cook, prep and time are probably the biggies. This revolves around knife skills at the core level--Think about all the cutting and chopping infomercials you've seen. Far too many and so many obviously bad ones. And they all tout speed and easy clean up. For an un/underskilled home cook, the knifework is probably the most daunting. 

    And to prepare the vegetables properly, mirepoix for example, is tricky to automate well. Sure, in learning knife skills, you learn to make the cuts to set up the next cuts. And while it all revolves around planking, sticks and a final crosscut, the methods that work best holding and manipulating an onion, carrot and celery through those cuts is different for each vegetable. If you add in the other common vegetables like tomatoes of all sizes, potatoes, garlic, beans.... Clearly this is not a simple thing to solve in one machine. 

    Now, you have to  time this. You dont' want to cut it all up and hold it at room temperature. That's not safe. And many vegetables begin to degrade or change when cut and held. Also the meat factors. So you need to be able to manipulate the storage, preparation and then cooking of disparate ingredients  to hit the target time.  

    It should be obvious why pre-prepared meals are the popular solution they are right now. 

    Now look at the wages and workers in restaurants. This is not a lucrative career.  So it's not that it's necessarily a complex issue or demanding of cunning intelligence, but it does currently take an intelligence, not an automation. The automation that does exist is much like the pre-fab meals in the public markets. The chain restaurant factory produces the soups, the sauces and such. It is just heated at the restaurant and some of the simple things cooked to order. 

    Automated solutions will come. But the tech isn't really there yet to reach the largest best most needy market. 
     
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  17. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, consider those Magic Bullet informercials. The host is tossing ingredients into his mini blender left and right and presto, he's got a dish. 

    But look at those ingredients. Peeled mini onions, peeled garlic, pre-cut cheese, vegetables reduced to 1 inch cubes. There's a lot of pre-prep that went into that dish that isn't shown. And is the down fall of people using and benefitting from these devices.  If you have to do that much prep, there's not much point of the device. 
     
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  18. maryb

    maryb

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    Chopping is easy, I find the prep to not be an issue and some veg holds okay for a day or two properly covered/wrapped. Carrots, celery, onion can all be prepped a few days ahead. Biggest thing in doing it is a proper sharp knife. Bad tools turn many people off cooking. My oldest sister complained about it and one day when I was there I found out why. Her chefs knife could barely cut butter. I had my sharpening gear with me(had a BBQ cater the weekend before, some stuff was still in the truck) and I sharpened all her knives. A month later she told me that she never knew cooking could be that fun when you are not fighting with equipment. I keep my knives razor sharp, sharp enough that when I dropped one 2 weeks ago I partially severed a tendon when it landed on top of my left hand. No slicing motion needed, straight drop and it made a clean cut. 7 stitches later and a brace for 8 weeks...
     
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  19. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I fail to see how this is research. You're tapping into a source that loves to cook. Anything we say about how difficult cooking is is just an assumption. How will you use this data? I'm not against discussion, but besides this being an interesting conversation I don't know how to contribute.
     
  20. alaminute

    alaminute

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    Trying to answer the questions in order:
    Cooking isn't usually hard, sometimes certain projects can be taxing though. A lot of it used to be hard like emulsifying, fine brunoise, and plating but experience has made that easy as well now,
    Yes it is absolutely the most fun.
    I don't like it, I love it.
    Equipment can make the task more enjoyable, certainly. It's just fun to play with new toys. I don't need a truffle slicer, or a pasta extruder but they're a blast to use.
    My most useful tool as another great chef once said is my hands
    My favorite pieces of equipment are -as most I'm sure- my knives and spoons.
    Because they are the most used/detrimental in my craft.
    Hope this helps


    P.S. @kuanwait, so you don't use 27 pans? Don't tell my wife or she'll start expecting me to use less
     
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