Psychology in the kitchen
Have you ever thought about how psychology can enter the kitchen? No? Yet there is a close link between psychology and the art of cooking. Not only for an indisputable need of food for our survival but also for the obvious meaning it assumes both in the social field and as a practice to promote a state of personal well-being. A sort of “mindfulness,” an inner path to get to know each other better and, why not, to make us known better by those around us. Because our relationship with the kitchen says a lot about us, too.
Psychology in the Kitchen, thanks to COVID-19
You may have heard how in this period of quarantine due to Covid-19 there was a curious phenomenon: in supermarkets, the flour has disappeared! What is the reason? Many people, many more than those who usually do it, have decided to use their time cooking. Cakes, pizzas, bread, homemade pasta. Even people who normally had never dedicated themselves to the kitchen not only for lack of time but also because they had never felt particularly in tune with the stove.
What happened? Undoubtedly the circumstances had their weight.
Sharing and well-being
Surely cooking has a great value of sharing. It is an activity that often assumes a later time when a group, which in this period, can be restricted to a family, finds itself around a table and looks each other into the eyes. They spend time together, leaving aside at least for a little more distractions, they communicate and compare their ideas. The ability to emphasize this moment by sharing something that gratifies the senses, such as taste, becomes an extra opportunity to make the mood and disposition of the participants the best you can want.
Cooking also has the power to abstain from what surrounds us. It drives away other thoughts and makes us focus on what we are doing at that precise moment. It gives us a respite from what normally occupies our mind, especially useful when this something is represented by negative worries and thoughts. It also makes us feel like masters of the situation, able to control and predict it, with calming and reassuring effects.
The way we cook also says a lot about us. For example, it makes us understand how creative we are, how we are able to face an unexpected challenge (Have you ever come to grips with a recipe and in the midst of its realization found that you are missing an essential ingredient?), how patient we are to defer gratification and how capable we are to face a disappointment, for example when the result is below expectations or the oven decides to play some bad joke on us.
Cooking is a way to show affection and attention to those close to us and will share with us those dishes. But it is also a way to take care of ourselves and express our mood: today I cook this because it is in tune with the way I feel. If we cook only for ourselves we have the opportunity to put ourselves at stake without feeling judged, free to let go and be ourselves, and free to evaluate the results that we will have achieved without fear of being criticized. It is also well known that taking care of yourself has the power to make us happier.
Cooking alone or in company
Depending on whether we engage in culinary art alone or in company, goals, effects, and benefits vary.
Cooking alone allows us to carve out time exclusively for ourselves, organize ourselves, manage ourselves, take the initiative, decide how to behave For example whether to follow a pre-established plan or put our creativity at stake. And the result (if all goes well) will be a gratification to our abilities.
If we cook in a group, we share an experience, we confront each other, we work together to achieve a common goal, we divide roles and spaces, we cement understanding and get a gratification about teamwork and the ability to interact, more than individual skills.
Even some companies rely on the kitchen for their strategy of “team building”— those practices put in place in the human resources in order to form a cohesive group able to best express the potential of each. Colleagues who have shared a cooking experience have gained considerable benefits both from a greater ability to collaborate and from greater creativity.
Sometimes cooking becomes a pretext to keep alive contact with friends, people who may not be with us at this time but with whom we exchange recipes, experiences, and advice. It consolidates our role within a group and drives away the fear of being alone.
A new concept
Even the very concept of cooking, understood as a space to experience our ability to cook, has changed radically in recent years. If once the kitchens were local to themselves where external guests had no access, today cooking is increasingly an act of sharing. The kitchens are more open, sometimes they are one with the living room, and seeing the hostess intent on cooking while waiting for lunch, maybe collaborating with the final touches, is seen as something more and more normal and pleasant.
And if you feel you’re being denied cooking, it’s time to debunk that belief. It is in fact proven that getting out of our own “comfort zone” and facing a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable increases our self-esteem and self-confidence.
Try to believe!