My cousin once prepared disgusting macaroni salad for a birthday celebration. The salad looked like someone’s vomit and tasted exactly the same.
From this moment on, she was labeled as the worse cook in the family. From the party — when she served us undercooked pasta, that was somehow unseasoned and too seasoned with veggies that tasted as someone forgot them on the grill for three days with old oil and too thick mayonnaise with rotten eggs scent — she sealed her fate.
Now she lives the life of the “worse-chef-in-family” which means people reminder her about her pukey pasta (the official name given by family) at every celebration with annoying comments like:
Careful, careful, don’t eat that, your cousin prepared it!
Do you have health insurance?
You know eating this food is your own responsibility!
If my cousin organize the celebration, other members bring their food just-in-case. They offer to cook for her or her kid’s school events. They even ask her to didn’t bother with cooking.
One pukey salad and you are done with the family cook career.
Some are going to say my cousin is a bad cook, like many of us. She just doesn’t know how to cook. Or, as my uncle once said: “If you destroy an easy dish like macaroni salad, you need to stop cooking!”
My cousin is not a bad cook, but a lazy one. When they told her the salad sucked, she just rolled her eyes and said: “I’m a bad cook, what can I do?”
She could fake it till she makes it. This is my personal technique which I developed over the years. I was once a poor cook, till I didn’t understand that I’m a lazy cook. Cooking is an essential life skill. To be an average cook, you don’t need to love cooking.
We weren’t all born to be Martha Stewart.
Some of us don’t enjoy chopping spices, turning in the kitchen like we are dancing, sip there, salt there, mixing, with elegance and voilà, the dish turned out perfect.
No, my kitchen looks like a war zone — everything is burning, the veggies fighting on the desk, dishes have the building meeting, I use ten spoons, food is jumping on the floor, and so on.
You don’t need to love or enjoy cooking to prepare a tasty lunch. Do I love cleaning? No, but my flat is tidy. Do I love paying my bills? No, but I keep repeating it every month. Do I love doing errands? No, but I need to be an adult.
Every day we do a million things that we despise, but we do it for the sake of living. If you don’t want to survive on sandwiches or eat takeaways every day, you need to learn how to cook. Or, you can fake that you know how to cook. So fake it till you make and bake it!
The part of the reason the pukey salad of my cousin tasted disgusting was because of undercooked pasta. You can’t serve a macaroni salad if you didn’t cook your pasta enough! You can’t do sushi if your rice is undercooked. You can’t prepare a french salad with hard potatoes.
You can’t serve a decent meal if you don’t even know the kitchen basics. You can’t build a second floor if you don’t have one first. You can’t cook dinner if you don’t know how to prepare breakfast. So, start with the basic — breakfast, easy food, pasta, and build yourself up.
Spices are your new best friend
If you want to drop the poor meals in the past, you should also leave your unseasoned seasons there. Start using spices besides famous salt and pepper. Learn which seasoning is the best for a certain dish; don’t get overwhelmed with the selection, and don’t throw everything together. Right spices will blow your dish, and wrong can easily destroy it.
Leave experiments in your house
Experimenting in the kitchen is the road to improvement and delicious meals. But don’t bring your experiments at parties, celebrations, or when you are inviting friends to dinner. Serving people the dish you prepared the first time is like begging to fall. Every cook needs time to properly mastering the meal.
Don’t let them in the kitchen
If you are a messy cook — like me — don’t let anybody in the kitchen. If your workspace is looking like a food&dishes bomb would explode there, protect it in front of noisy family members. Experienced cooks have an organized kitchen — don’t let your messy warzone influence people’s judgment of your food!
Choose your signature dish
To appear as a good cook, you only need to master three meals, the delicious trio: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Instead of overwhelming yourself, first, learn how to do your signature triplet. When it is your turn to cook, serve your master dish and not the experiment!
Learn how to do homemade bread
People who bake their own bread are somehow seen as gods of the bakery world. Honestly, it is not the hardest thing to learn, but you need practice. Start learning and making your perfect homemade bread. Serving your soft focaccia or pita bread at any celebration will put you on a bakery pedestal.
Win hearts with dessert
People always compliment my banana chocolate muffins, and it is not because I’m somehow gifted to bake them perfectly. I prepared it a zillion times, and I studied them to perfection. To impress, you just need one delicious dessert, which could also be your sweet signature. There is nothing better than dessert to win people’s souls or shut their mouths.
And on your journey, fake it till you bake it, you will notice you don’t need to fake it anymore because you will slowly become a decent chief. This is the greatest gift of pretending — you can really learn things while simulating them.