It's easy to think of cooking as one of many daily chores, but if you can learn to enjoy it, it's easy to find ways in which this activity can actually bring tons of joy. So, Redditor u/PreschoolBoole asked, "What's your favorite part of cooking that's not talked about?" Here's what people said.
1. "Discovering other cultures through food and cooking. I may not have a Persian restaurant where I live, but I have a great Persian cookbook and have been learning the cultural recipes through it. Food is so deeply tied to culture that cooking is like the cheapest way to travel."
2. "I love the validation and confidence it gives me when people enjoy my food. My girlfriend recently asked me how I could possibly enjoy cooking for two hours to make some fish tacos that we ate in five minutes. That's when it hit me. It feels so good when someone says 'This is delicious' or 'Wow, you’re doing that from scratch!?'"
3. "Making things up on the fly or dashing things together from only what I have on hand. There's nothing better than when it turns out amazing yet unrepeatable."
4. "People often ask what food I like to cook the most. Sometimes, they will talk about something they recently cooked, something intricate and undoubtably delicious. I always feel a bit inadequate because much of my cooking is very simple, because I realize that I find the most joy in taking something in its rawest form to create new ingredients. This can be anything from breaking down large cuts of meat, making ghee from butter, cheese from milk, condiments from scratch, pickled vegetables, stocks, canned vegetables that came from the farmers market, etc."
5. "I love putting in my headphones, listening to a podcast, and doing my cooking — a solitary activity that involves absolutely no one else."
6. "The smell. Not just the smell of the final product, but the steps leading up to the final smell: each addition of a spice or vegetable, the char of meat, cooking flour in a roux, burning off alcohol, baking, etc. I know when cookies are done just by the smell. I've always felt that smell is just as important as taste when cooking."
7. "Garlic cooking in butter. It's easily one of the best smells on the planet."
8. "Experimenting with ingredients and flavors is so much fun. I've come up with so many great combinations doing this. And of course, I've had some some duds. We won't talk about the black bean pancakes I tried to make this week..."
9. "Cooking prep. The way in which you cut and prepare your ingredients matters more than a lot of people realize. It's a very 'zen' time for me, like the calm before the storm."
10. "I love trying to replicate delicious dishes I've eaten at restaurants in my own kitchen. It always requires a little experimentation (and of course, it never comes out quite as good as the restaurant version), but it's a ton of fun, and there's nothing like when you finally get the copycat recipe sort of correct."
11. "Feeding people is just a great feeling. I love bringing joy to people by making food to share (especially by baking)."
12. "Looking into my fridge and then playing a game of Chopped with myself."
13. "Its a selfish thing, but my favorite part of cooking is always being able to eat what I want exactly how I want it. And I get the chef’s treat: a crispy end or a juicy bit that doesn’t make the serving plate."
14. "I love finding ways to cook the ingredients I have so none of them go to waste. Wasting almost nothing is my favorite thing about cooking because it's a new challenge every day."
15. "That satisfying sizzle when your protein hits a perfectly preheated pan, and the smell that directly follows. It's like a mental cue that says, 'Alright! We're off and running!' But that sound...I love that part of cooking."
16. "I love the teamwork. Usually, people can (and should) GTFO of the kitchen while I'm cooking, but me and my partner have built a cooking rapport together that feels like dancing...only with food at the end."
17. "Honestly, the thing that has been the most validating and inspiring for me about cooking is the fact that my kids (13 and 15) generally prefer to take leftovers to school over buying lunch there, or packing something else. Apparently, they have started joking about their 'four-course lunches' with friends. The fact that they prefer to take leftovers of my home-cooked food to school makes me want to cook for them so much more."
18. "I love the day-before-pay-day concoctions or the Sunday stew where you throw everything into a pot and see what comes out. It's the best!"
19. "I love making one-hit-wonder meals. The number one rule is that you can never replicate it. These kinds of meals are topnotch fun, the kind where you decide what goes in with what you have on hand, and no shopping trips allowed. Every time I've attempted to replicate one of these meals, it's impossible. They're all unique but amazing in their own way."
20. "I think my favorite part of cooking is just learning more: more advanced techniques, ingredients I once didn't know how to use, different cuisines, etc. I love the fact that cooking is pretty much a never-ending process of learning and building on what I already know."
21. "I love finding cheap ingredients (for example, a tough cut of meat) and making something fantastic with it through the many tricks I’ve picked up over the years."
22. "The whole cooking process is an exercise in mindfulness for me: Following a recipe and paying close attention to each step of cooking keeps my mind on the work in front of me. When I'm cooking, I’m not worrying or overthinking about anything else. It’s very peaceful for me."
23. "There are many reasons I love to cook, but one of my favorite things is shopping for ingredients. I especially love this activity when I can shop at a nice little market with different stalls and vendors that carry fresh ingredients. There is just something so damn good about good quality, fresh ingredients and the potential they have for cooking something delicious."
24. "I love being able to say I made something as good as anything I could order in a restaurant, but for a fraction of the price."
25. "I love cooking seasonal recipes using local produce — going to the farmers market, picking up whatever veggies are fresh, and then using them to cook something that mimics the season (for example, lots of sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes in the summer or Brussels sprouts and squash in the cooler fall months). I particularly love cooking in the cooler months when cooking can be part of a whole cozy vibe."
What are your favorite parts of cooking or an aspect of home cooking you really enjoy? Tell us in the comments!
Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.