Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Sep 6, 2009 07:25 AM

Cooking and self esteem

I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately and wanted to hear from other foodies and people who take pride in the art of cooking.

From my own experience I find part (not all of course) of my self esteem comes from cooking, for example the day I (or others) enjoy a wonderfully and perfectly executed meal that I cooked it really IS the best feeling in the world. I could sing from the highest mountain (if anyone will enjoy THAT is another story :P )

Cooking (to me) is a bit like an emotional rollercoaster, is that part of being passionate about it or am I just nuts?

I don't know or think people who don't cook can relate to this or understand (maybe they can if it comes to something they do or are passionate about?)
I get the impression that they think I'm overreacting or it's just no big deal. Maybe I take it personally, and it's not even the fact that they didn't enjoy it but I felt perhaps it wasn't done properly or the way I wanted it to go (and things like that happen in the kitchen of course)

When I saw the movie Julie and Julie and I believe it was the part when Julie broke down on the kitchen floor it hit me that perhaps this is just natural.
If I create a great dish it can give me a huge boost and inspires me to do more, if something fails usually I can pick up the pieces but if things fail repeatedly then I get that feeling of falling off the horse am afraid but know I have to get myself back up there.

Do share your thoughts, and if you all say this isn't normal then I'll look into signing myself up for therapy, haha.

Do any of you just not let it get to you?

(hope this is the right forum, I also hope this thread isn't deleted because it is not a rant, it's mearly an observation, and curious question about the feelings of most cooks towards cooking results)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Very interesting observation. I have always referred to cooking as 'my therapy' and I am a therapist by profession. It relaxes me and the joy of creating something delicious is a self esteem booster. I often feel that I cook only for myself and not for anyone else. In our home, my family only DH and kid, know if mum's not in a good mood, the food will be off. So usually its better to get carryout or eat out if the mood is not right. But I have cooked all day when in a bad mood and produced exquisite meals and felt better at the end of the day because I did that. So i enjoyed reading what you wrote. Lets hope its stays so others can comment.

    1. nope, doesn't get to me. my self esteem doesn't come from cooking... if i fail i can always try again until a preferred result is achieved.

      i find good food/drink is an emotional experience. i could be bitter for days after having a mediocre meal [outside the home]. and i could be on cloud 9 for days after having a fabulous [unpretentious] meal, or wine, beer etc [while abroad].

      there's a German saying that goes... 'eating and drinking hold the body and soul together.'

      1. Your OK, enjoy your passion, I'm the same way in most respects. I'm very fortunate to have a wife and family that love what I do. I became a "foodie" in the early '70's. Probably 70% of people won't understand how we feel. I cooked professionly more on than off for the past 30 years and what really bothered me was the amount of people that were in the "biz" who could care less about it, "just a job" to them. And to alot of americans being in food service is a lowly profession. Enjoy yourself, things will "get to you", nothing you can do, just keep on going. I'm retired these days and nothing I like better that to cook a big meal for my family and a couple of friends, crack a few beers, turn up the stereo and enjoy life! Matter of fact I've got some ribs in the smoker now, be ready 'bout 6. Think I'll throw together a mexican cornbread too.
        Bye for now.............

        1. Cooking for me is a creative self-expression. It's certainly not my whole life, but it is a significant enhancement to it. My self-esteem is not dependent on cooking, but is bolstered by it.

          I love that I can produce something using all my senses. I love that what i produce is literally nurturing and life-supporting and pleases people. I love the taste of food. I love its smells. I love the smells and colors and abundance of farmers markets.

          I do notice, however, that my creativity and my desire to cook increases in inverse proportion to what I am doing and achieving in the rest of my life. Part of that is when I am too busy to cook, I am - well, too busy to cook.

          When I haven't cooked much in a while, however, I find that I miss it and will maybe knock off two or three soups in an afternoon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chicgail

            I love what you say in your first two paragraphs! My job is not at all artistic but I feel I can explore that side of myself through cooking. My self-esteem, like yours, is not dependent on cooking but is bolstered by it.

            I usually work 10-12 hours a day in a very analytical setting. Coming home and cooking nearly every night is a kind of therapy to me. It allows me to physically and mentally separate from my work day. The planning, washing, chopping, sauteeing, baking, etc. are soothing.

            Even when I'm insanely busy, I try to find time to cook. When I travel for work, I bring my chef's knife if I'm driving. On my last business trip, I had to fly and thought I'd only be gone for five days so I booked a room that only had a tiny refrigerator (no freezer) and a microwave. When I found out I'd have to stay an additional week and a half, I went to the store and purchased a few things (including a hobo tool and unintentionally bad knife - I nearly lost a finger!). I needed to cook. Apparently, I've forgotten how to relax in other, more traditional, ways. I just pretended I had been given a particularly difficult Top Chef challenge... I'm no Hubert Keller but if he can make macaroni and cheese in a dormitory shower stall, I can put together something edible with a microwave and refrigerator.

          2. Cooking is a great way to share yourself with others! I totally get that. I find it very satisfying to cook and serve others. And while it's great to be talented, and to continue to grow, I like to separate "who I am" from "what I do". Get your identity from who you are at the core, and not from what you may or may not see reflected back by others, or by your skill set.

            1 Reply
            1. re: scuzzo

              Totally agree scuzzo. Self-esteem is a place to come from; not a place to get it.

              But I sure do like to cook.