Cooking and Mental Health

I read an article about how home cooking is slowly but surely dying. What people call cooking at home is mostly reheating pre-prepared food. Home cooking, the art of putting mostly fresh ingredients together and manipulating them into a meal, is what is dying. 

In that article, the author, Epicurious editor David Tamarkin, also states that he believes at cooking at home is good for us, and probably good for our mental health. He also says that he has no evidence for his belief; he believes it, nonetheless. And the funny thing is, I do too. 

You would think that there would be some studies on how cooking at home might be linked to mental health benefits, but if you do a Google search, there is nothing on the subject. 

Really? Nothing? 

You mean when Yoda brings the young Skywalker into his tiny home on Dagobah and cooks him a hot meal replete with herbs and spices, we can’t think of similar scenes across a lifetime of home-cooked meals that  didn’t make both the cook and the eaters happier, or didn’t give the chef at least a small boost in confidence or self-esteem?

Doesn’t the act of creating something, whether it be knitting, sewing, or painting, tend to lift the mood and help quell anxiety? Why else do support groups for cancer patients often encourage participants to knit? Couldn’t cooking have a meditative quality to it, when it’s not rushed? Have you ever noticed how much tension you can release through your hands while rolling out dough, beating some eggs, or stirring a soup? 

I know I’m not the first one to think about the correlation between home cooking and mood. And I decided to dedicate a chapter in my book to it. If you buy my book someday, be sure to read that chapter with a cup of hot apple cider with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange peel. 

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