Mark Sisson offers up a bunch of reasons Why It’s Important to Cook Your Own Meals. Here’s one that I think is key (emphasis Mark’s):
The better cooks we are, the richer and more varied our diets can be. The principle worked for our ancestors’ collective health, and it applies to us individually today. Like our ancestors, the right techniques open up new food possibilities for us – like cheaper and otherwise tougher cuts of meat. Additionally, many foods may be wholly uninspiring on their own but become fast favorites when paired with the right sauce or some novel herbs. As we expand our repertoire, we lessen the chance that we’ll get bored with our choices.
It occurs to me that if I could cook like Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet, I’d find far less reason to deviate from the Perfect Health Diet!
Aye, there’s the rub. I suspect cooking is a skill that is best learned the traditional craft way — essentially by apprenticing yourself to someone who knows how. Using your average cookbook seems to me a terrible way to learn (unless you like to be intimidated by scary ingredient lists) and with a few exceptions (like America’s Test Kitchen or the now retired Good Eats), food TV isn’t a great route to learning to cook either.
But where there’s a will there’s a way I suppose! Here are the books I’ve found that seem reasonably promising in terms of teaching actual technique (in no particular order):
- Cook’s Illustrated The Science of Good Cooking
- Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
- Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food
- Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Chef
- Michael Ruhlman’s Ruhlman’s Twenty