Are TV and technology ruining our cooking skills?
Has the instant gratification of iPhones and YouTube seduced people into avoiding the kitchen?
Food-loving 20-something Polly Glass certainly thinks so. It’s time, she says, to get back to simple pleasures…
Food culture is more in our faces than it’s ever been. What was once confined to recipe books and the occasional TV show has spread across the digitised world. YouTube chefs are a thing, food blogs are an industry and Instagram foodies multiply by the day, each offering their own version of impossibly seductive food porn, mostly involving avocados. Each of these trends was largely created – and is largely pursued – by the millennial generation, which is generally defined as people aged between 16 and 34.
So why do so many of these people shy away from cooking, despite having an apparent passion for food? According to research by the Co-op group, a quarter of millennials have no interest in cooking, and another 16 per cent view it only as a “means to an end”, rather than something they enjoy. For a generation so obsessed with taking pictures of what’s on their plate, that’s worrying. I’m a millennial and I love cooking.
You may be one yourself, reading this and thinking, “I cook all the time, so do my friends, what are you on about?” Yet I’m frequently staggered by how many of my contemporaries profess they can’t cook. These are intelligent people with challenging careers, yet they claim making a basic meal is beyond them. People somehow seem to have forgotten that if you can read, you can follow a recipe, which means you can cook.
Perhaps it’s because the same technology that’s put food everywhere has also seduced stressed young office workers into having it ready made for them. The millennials are a generation high on the instant gratification of social media, Amazon and Netflix – and now Deliveroo, UberEATS and co (not to mention box deliveries with ingredients all weighed out, in a bid to minimise work) are changing people’s relationship with food. Suddenly it’s more acceptable (and feasible) to leave the “I can’t cook” demons unchallenged.
These clever new apps have given fast food a facelift, turning a guilty pleasure into a ‘healthy’ option for the tired and time-poor. Consequently there are droves of smart, accomplished young people who quake at the prospect of cooking – or avoid it altogether. And when they do cook, it’s an ordeal. I’ve had dinner with friends who fretted over assembling a salad, and when I was at university, I was considered a serious foodie just because I owned a chopping board.
I reckon there’d be a lot less angst if we did a little less binge-watching of Netflix, hitting the pub and eating takeaways on top of exhausting jobs. I’m not saying we have to cut out the treat of a great curry or watching the latest cult TV series, but on an everyday basis these things aren’t good for our physical or mental wellbeing. Making our own meals, on the other hand, is. Plus, in the long run, it’s cheaper.
I have some career-driven friends who see cooking as a luxury for women at home who have a lot of time and money on their hands. Yet it’s so far from being that… Cooking may not solve all of our millennial worries, but it’s a key ingredient for living happily – and healthily.
Do you think Polly has a valid point or do you take a different view? Let us know in the comments below.