29 Dec 2009

Living to Eat

Image from here

I always fail to understand those people who cite food and cooking as a hobby. Philately is a hobby. Lapidary is a hobby. Blogging and scrapbooking are hobbies - well until they become legitimate home businesses they're hobbies. Food is not a hobby - food is what keeps you alive.

A hobby is an activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation during your spare time. Which is why stamp collecting is a hobby. If you don't put your stamps into their album this week then it's probably not the end of the world. Similarly knitting - if you no longer have time to knit then you may feel guilty at the half finished dove grey mohair cardigan that sits accusingly in the hall cupboard, remembering the exorbitant cost of the yarn, but your store bought jacket will warm you just as well, and in my case a darn sight more fashionably to boot.

If cooking is a hobby, then I wonder what happens when people no longer have time to cook. Do they resort to take-away toast and Vegemite with a coffee chaser at the local cafe, or do their families merely fade away becoming shadows of their former robust selves? Perhaps they keep cooking, but their repertoire of dishes never changes, and dinner at the Joneses in the noughties is a time capsule of dinner at the Joneses in the 70s - prawn cocktail, roast chicken with greying beans and potatoes followed by Black Forest Gateau, cheese and Jatz bikkies and Afterdinner mints with Nescafe. Mmmmmm Mmm!

Now I understand that for some people cooking is not a pleasure but an incessant, never-ending chore, but that does not give you the freedom to stop doing it. You may not live to eat; but like it or not, you and your family do need to eat to live. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

So given that you'll be cooking for a very long time to come, why not get excited about food? You know, even if you don't like cooking all that much, it can actually be fun. You just need to put it back in its proper place as a necessity and remove it from its wrong placement as a hobby, and something you can just give up for Lent.

I'm much too busy to have a hobby except blogging, which for me is more a necessary release from the worries of raising small people and caring for home and husband and other important day-to-day concerns than a hobby anyhow, but I will admit to wasting an awful lots of valuable time in and around the preparation of food.

For me food time wasting includes the serious study of cookery books. For a girl who tells herself and others that she has no time for scrapbooking, genealogy and other niceties of life, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time that I profess not to have reading about food. Ethnic recipe books exert their strongest grip upon me, which in turn leads to more food time wasting in the aisles of Japanese Supermarkets, Middle-Eastern pastry shops and Asian markets as I learn more about new and deliciously exciting ingredients and culinary techniques.

The best time to indulge a cookery book binge is the summer holidays - long days of nothing to do. The book publishers know this of course, and all the best cookery books are released in November just in time for stuffing into the stocking of a loved one on Christmas Eve.

My family know me very well too. They also know the importance of food and cooking as a necessity, and we indulge each other equally. This year my gifts included David Thompson's Thai Street Food and Luke Nguyen's The Songs of Sapa. My brother received Lulu Grimes' The Cook's Book of Everything, my sister-in-law Donna Hay's Seasons. We all received subscriptions to her eponymously named cooking magazine.There were not one, not two, but three KitchenAid Mixers courtesy of my incredibly generous parents - one for each couple. There were the ingredients for sushi making for my mother, and herb keepers for everyone.

For my family, clearly, food is more than a necessity. I could even go as far as to admit that for us it's an...um..er...hobby! In fact, I cannot lie to myself any longer. I do have time for collecting stamps, pigs and coins. I can scrapbook. I might even have time to knit. You know, I really do have a mohair cardy lying half finished in the hall cupboard. I just need to put it back as priority and get on with it. Or maybe not...

Clearly I do have time for a hobby after all. It is just that with cooking we all get to eat the results, and a lovely crab wonton and barbeque pork soup tastes an awful lot better than mohair stuck between the teeth I can promise you. Perhaps on second thoughts I should embrace my new life as a girl with a hobby and let you get on with the quilting and sewing and felting and painting and all the other things that I have always told myself I don't have time for. After all, if I did all of that, then we'd be eating to live too, and I'd much rather live to eat.


  1. Hello Jeanne! Long time no time for reading here!! So nice to pop in for a visit and see what you are up to! Cooking as a hobby "O) Funny- you are funny. And this Aussie girl only cooks to live... but I VERY wisely married a man that cooks as a hobby!! He he he. Lovely visiting!

  2. lol. I'd shoot anyone who gave me anything to do with food! Except chocolate. Chocolate is manna from heaven. I eat because I have no choice. Otherwise...meh. I think we'll have to disagree on this one. ☺

  3. I enjoyed reading this today! : )
    Have fun making and eating that good food!

  4. Great post, Jeanne! Cookbook, as we say in the states, sounds so ordinary compared to the phrase "cookery books" which has such a quaint and old-fashioned tone. Makes me want to go and light a fire and hang a kettle over it. :)

    Cooking use to be a hobby for me years ago (and then my daughter was born, but that's another story) so I can totally relate to what you're saying. When one has a talent for creativity, why confine it to handicrafts? Why not allow it to overflow into the area of cooking? There are short-term rewards (sighs of satisfaction, belly-rubbing, and discreet belching) as well as long-lasting fruit from our labors - the health of our loved ones. I say enjoy your hobby and may your family reap the benefits!

    P.S. Excuse me for my other-side-of-the-globe ignorance, but what in the world of wallabies are Jatz bikkies? lol

  5. Very good read Jeanne...KitchenAid Mixer...arrrhh....what a cool present, I so want...um...need one of those!

    I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts! Cooking to me is also an art, like an expression of art, an outlet to be artistic...the more you create the more you love it.


  6. Hi Jeanne (need to keep reminding myself: as in Jeannie or Genie),
    I hate cooking, but it's a necessity in order to live.

    Fancy recipes are not for me - I've learned to cook some things since being married, but plain food is the order of the day in our home. I LOVE salads!

    Have a great week,

  7. Yay for you! I'm so glad for a kitchen aid for you! So, I can empathize in one way, but not in another. As in, I do NOT know what enjoyment of cooking is... hahah. I cook out of necessity. though, if I had more time, I'd probably enjoy it... truly, NO time. Maybe when the kids are big though. But I DO love my Bosch mixer...(equivalent of kitchenaid) oh I do. It saves me so much time! Love it.


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