The second in our series that explores the importance of food and cooking for creating positivity during uncertainty, our guest Nino Asaro - friend of the Lab, amazing chef and importer of the finest Sicilian olive oil - describes how you should combat your fears through cooking.

What is dark today, might be light tomorrow. Darkness, if seen through a half full glass, is just a lack of light. It’s in darkness that our primordial instincts of survival wake up. In darkness, humans have a stronger tendency to fear the unknown, to fear what we don't know, and to doubt what we do know. Mageirocophobia is the technical term to describe fear of cooking. Whether it’s a fear of cooking for oneself, or for small parties, we have all feared the kitchen. The flaming stoves, the pungent knives and the pretentious guests. Our phobia for cooking has grown exponentially, a prepared meal has become the new norm of welcoming guests for dinner.

But let’s now reflect on the conviviality of a home cooked meal in it and of itself. We cook together, we gather around fires together, we eat together, precisely because we want to share our emotions with others. And food has been the ultimate vessel. We fear to do it wrong, without knowing what ‘it’ is. We then blame our fast-paced society for all of it, claiming that it is more efficient to buy prepared meals, so that we can spend more time with those we love. But in reality we probably use that extra time to lay on our sofas and scroll through kilometers of social media. 

AFRAID. Of cooking, because we have never attempted it. Never consciously, passionately decided to cook something that comes out of our brains. It’s easier to follow a recipe verbatim, or just overgrill a chicken breast and call that dinner. Before stating the phrase “I’m an awful cook” ask yourself how many meals have you passionately cooked, and how many did you cook for the main goal of survival. Many of us will most likely realize that maybe 2 to 3 meals a week have been passionately cooked, while the rest were merely necessary to survive. 

The phrase “There are people who eat live, and there are people who live to live” exists for a reason. It shows that humans have been able to automate, standardize and simplify one of the most complex aspects of our existence. We have become machines worrying about calories, convenience and ‘taste’ (And yes!! I say ‘taste’ because we have standardized that too, we fear to try new dishes, new ingredients and new ideas). 

Once we have finished this exercitia spiritualia, let’s look into our pantries and fridges and let’s start to dismantle our fear of cooking. Let’s grab the first 5 ingredients we find and let’s make a dish. One that does not follow any cookbook, but instead one that follows your instincts. Once we have repeated this exercise for a myriad of time, we will start differentiating the different stages of fear. As we play with as many ingredients as possible, our fear for the unknown morphs into a fear of repetition. The fear that stopped us from cooking becomes a benign illness, a positive uncertainty that forces us to cook more. All we have is play the knives and pots, the kitchen will orchestrate the rest. 

Fear doesn’t see age, fear is negative only if we want it to be negative. In a panel discussion at MAD4 Ferran, Adria screamed “you are never too old to be afraid. But when you overcome your fear, and when you transform it into a creative element, you can achieve your dreams.” Therefore, we should be afraid, embrace fear and combat it with more cooking!! 

You can follow Nino on instagram here and enjoy his recipes and positive food stories for yourself.

Don’t miss Nino’s next blog in our Cooking Though Uncertainty series coming soon….

Written by: Nino Asaro.


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