How to Rediscover the Joy of Eating When You’re Not a Chef

The lost art of actually enjoying the food you eat

Source: Deposit Photos

It’s one of the world’s most common misconceptions that your palate is at the mercy of your cooking ability - or your finances. I believe that actually, it’s possible to have a real passion and joy for the food you put in your mouth even if you don’t make it yourself, or afford to pay someone else a good deal of money to do it.

As the mother of a millennial man, this is something I have observed. My son and his friends are health-driven people. They want to eat healthy and be well-informed with everything that impacts their health. They know that the restaurant food is sub-optimal. The low quality and lack of freshness of ingredients, as well as the methods of cooking used by restaurants put their food much below the home-cooked meals in terms of the nutritional value and taste.

However, I see that my son and his friends still end up ordering restaurant food and relying on leftovers most of the time. They do not have the time or do not know how, to cook the nutritious food that they know they will enjoy eating.

I built a startup and designed the first product to help millennials make home-cooked meals with ease. And along the way, I discovered the two actions that can help just about anyone rediscover the joy of eating whether they’re a gourmet chef or a frazzled Stanford student.

Mindfully focus on flavor, one bite at a time.

A lot of people focus on cheap flavors that rely on fats or sugars to hit our ‘tasty’ receptors. This is compounded by the issue of fast food and fast eating. It’s all too easy to scarf food down mindlessly because all you’re really getting from it is that it tastes good.

Source: Omnipan product photography, owned by author

To remember how to properly enjoy food, it’s vital to slow down. This doesn’t mean every meal has to be a drawn out affair - but I believe anyone can spend five to ten minutes enjoying a meal bite by bite, focusing on the flavors, textures and smells you enjoy. Go beyond saying you like a food or don’t, and try to really identify what it is about the food you are reacting to. Pick out individual components of the meal you’re eating, and reflect on how you feel about them.

Eating can be fast but still an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Discover new flavors that align with existing favorites.

A lot of folks, when they don’t have someone else pushing them to try new things, often rely on tried-and-true favorites and are missing out on a much wider and richer world of flavors. Especially with the global market of ingredients and spices we have at our disposal nowadays, many people don’t take full advantage of their entire palate.

While I was researching for my new cookbook, Cooking with Omnipan, I discovered some herbs and spices that I had never used before. For example, Agastache, sometimes called Korean Mint, is a surprising and versatile herb, good for marinades for meats and seafood but also salad dressings or over fresh fruit salads. It’s not a usual flavor, but it really elevates any dish you add it to.

By expanding your palate and trying new flavors, you can give yourself a little adventure and help look forward to the next dish you create.

Final thoughts on rediscovering the joy of eating

Especially if you don’t have time to create a five-course dinner for yourself or counter space to prep five different vegetables to go into your plate, keep it simple. First, focus on what you experience as you eat, bite by bite. What textures are there? How can you describe flavors beyond “sweet” and “salty”? Next, branch out. Try incorporating a new spice into a favorite dish once a week and see how it goes.

These two steps, simple as they sound, will be enough to let you rediscover the joy of eating, no matter what your situation is or circumstances are.

If this story resonated with you, sign up to get notifications for when our Kickstarter campaign goes live for Omnipan, our product that makes cooking friction-less and enjoyable.

Seema is Founder & CEO of Chef-Avenue, an innovative Cookware Startup in Northern California. She will be debuting Omnipan™ on Kickstarter in the coming months.