Emerging Perspectives: Student Chapters

The Kitchen as a Classroom: Recipe to Unearth Life’s Simple Virtues

Addy Zenko

The art of cooking is a timeless practice, a ubiquitous unifier since time immemorial: in an age of limitless diversification of pressing demands, eating remains one of the few things that we all must do. This venerated act is crucial for cultural continuance and deep spiritual exploration for people all over the world, a practice whose rich appeal and infinite adaptability esteem it a craft for all to enjoy. The delicious epitome of self-care, deliberate preparation of whole ingredients is the antidote to thoughtless consumption of mass-produced, ultra-processed foods, whose impersonality and generally unhealthy nature worsen physical and mental well-being (Lin et al., 2018). The benefits of spending quality time in the kitchen, alone or with others, permeate myriad aspects of life: by choosing to cook, one is “unplugging to plug back in” by engaging with a simple, mindful practice to restore personal and familial health, build connections and instill a strong sense of community, preserve ethnic heritage, challenge a growing dependency on corporations, and fix our broken food system…

…There exists a common misunderstanding that one must be a master chef to properly cook a meal, possessing skills to craft Baked Alaska of Michelin-star quality and perfect Beef Wellingtons that could make Gordon Ramsay sing. This high perceived barrier to entry often inhibits newcomers from trying their hand at preparing simple, nourishing dishes. As author and Columbus native Daniel H. Pink notes in his book Drive (2011), “mastery is an asymptote” – even if we log ten thousand hours in the kitchen a la Malcolm Gladwell, achieving total mastery is impossible because there will always be more culinary niches to explore, more techniques to unearth, more wisdom to be gleaned from new mentors. No one has ever been or will ever be a perfect cook (though Guy Fieri has surely come close, his abdominous midsection a triumphant reminder of his ten-thousand-hour feat). However, displaying enough compassion to grant yourself permission to be a beginner, to surrender to the unknown of the culinary universe, is already a critical step towards realizing its therapeutic power…


Find the rest of this chapter in Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America HERE.


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Addy Zenko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.