Is TV making us cook more?
There are two schools of thought about television and home cooking at the moment.
One side says we are cooking less, getting lazier and fatter and eating more takeaway food. The other side says cooking is cool and more people are getting inspired to be in the kitchen.
The Guardian published this article recently and it seems like the jury is still out on which side is winning.
I've got my fingers crossed for the second one.
If the prime time television hours being devoted to cooking shows are anything to go by, cooking is certainly experiencing a surge in popularity.
The tricky thing is telling whether we are just watching more people cook on the screen or whether we are actually cooking more ourselves, inspired by the on-screen food porn.
Of course, there are cooking shows and then there are "cooking" shows. Some are shows focused solely on cooking, like Rachel Allen Bakes, while others build in reality television-style formats, like My Kitchen Rules.
A lot of my early inspiration came from Jamie Oliver.
This was in the days before 30 Minute (or 15 Minute) Meals and he was cooking in a cottage somewhere with seemingly endless kitchens and a live-in gardener.
I have vivid memories of slaving away over my first risotto, following a JO recipe on the iPad and freaking out about whether I was ''massaging'' the rice correctly.
These were very early days.
The main reason for my infatuation with Oliver's cooking is his ability to make everything seem so achievable. You can actually visualise yourself making the recipe and nothing seems too hard.
I think he has made cooking accessible to many people who doubted themselves or stuck to meat and three vege.
For the beginner cook, a reassuring, no-fuss approach can really tip the scales when it comes to taking that plunge in the kitchen.
Shows like these, perhaps, are prompting more effort from the home cook.
At the moment we probably have a saturation of cooking shows on TV and it has come time to weed out the ones worth watching.
The main focus of My Kitchen Rules is on elaborate cooking and chef-quality meals. I doubt many people are inspired to turn out such fare for the weeknight family meal. Maybe it inspires us to take dinner parties to the next level though?
There is, of course, the odd gem to be picked out and perfected for weeknight eating.
This MKR pita bread recipe is super easy and a great skill to learn.
Most of us probably aren't going to making Mussels Saganaki on a Tuesday night but I can assure you the pita bread is super simple and quick. Whip some up to pair with an easy curry.
In the absence of definitive research one way or the other, I choose to believe cooking shows are changing things for the better when it comes to putting good food on Kiwi tables.
If someone is serving up a simple Korean-inspired stir fry instead of 2-minute noodles, that's a win.
Once you've mastered Jamie Oliver's simple stuff, perhaps you can step up your efforts to a fancy weekend meal from the MKR menu?
Time to put all those cooking shows to the test. This weekend, look up a recipe you found particularly inspiring and give it a crack. I reckon you'll surprise yourself.
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