A lot of things go into crafting a meal: having the right utensils, getting the right ingredients, chopping them into identical pieces, washing meticulously, stirring constantly, frying carefully and all the while, making sure food does not burn. The average Lawrentian probably does not have the time or energy to cook every day while juggling school work. However, I am certain we can spare a couple of hours a week to cook a single meal for ourselves. And we should, because cooking can be a therapeutic activity.
Getting supplies and utensils on campus is actually not very difficult. There are kitchens in every residence hall on campus and students can check out utensils from the front desks. Additionally, there are open kitchens like, at International House, that are stocked with utensils. For groceries, Woodman’s is a shuttle ride away. Students can also find groceries at Jacob’s Meat Market on Lawe Street, a 10-minute walk from campus.
It is also easy to find proper instructions on how to cook what you want. There are video tutorials for pretty much every well-known dish in the world. So, in most cases, you can know exactly what to do and what not to do when making a dish on your own.
Additionally, there are extremely helpful tutorials for chopping meat and vegetables safely and quickly, which can reduce the time and effort that goes into preparation.
For example, many Bengali dishes require quite a bit of garlic. Earlier, I would spend almost 20 minutes pealing garlic cloves for each dish. Then I learned through an instructional video that a whole garlic can be pealed in under 30 seconds by simply breaking the whole into cloves, putting those into a box, and shaking it vigorously for a few seconds. This automatically peals all the garlic cloves due to the nature of the garlic skin. Through these instructional videos, the total time and effort that goes into cooking can be reduced drastically.
Cooking can be a great way to reward yourself. Whenever I am done with a difficult week, I make myself a simple but tasty meal, such as a steak. There is something very satisfying in listening to the meat sizzle on the pan and the amazing aroma that rises. When you flip the steak, you get to see the righteous sear on the beef. Then, finally, you get to eat the steak. In a matter of minutes, each of the senses is bombarded with positive sensations. Getting food from outside can only provide half the experience.
Other times, when I am stressed, I look up a more complicated dish. I make cooking that dish correctly my sole project for the next two hours and I just go at it. Complicated cooking requires keeping constant track of time while simultaneously jumping from one task to the next. It is hard to focus on anything else when your eyes and hands are constantly occupied with a non-repetitive task. When a meal is complete, the cook gets to directly enjoy the fruit of their labor. The whole thing becomes a mental exercise that, for a duration, can provide a positive form of escape from stressful things.
Cooking should be part of a weekly schedule. It is an always-relevant and useful skill, and the activity of cooking is a therapeutic escape from stress-filled days. So, if you would like to de-stress or reward yourself, I highly recommend making yourself a meal. Just do not run with knives!
*Illustration in print issue were by Yifan Zhang.