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Cooking with Love...what if you're in a bad mood?

Beach Chick May 22, 2011 08:29 AM

I've always heard that old adage 'cooking with love'..
If your in a bad mood, does that transfer over to the food..
Questions that keep me up at night wondering..
What do you all think?

  1. r
    ricepad Jun 2, 2011 01:11 PM

    If I'm in a bad mood in the kitchen, the food is going to suffer, as will anybody who complains about the food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ricepad
      sunshine842 Jun 2, 2011 02:11 PM

      heh -- love the last part.

      Shuddup and eat.

      1. re: sunshine842
        r
        ricepad Jun 3, 2011 12:30 PM

        Fortunately for my family, cooking can actually turn my mood from sour to good in relatively short order, so the 'bad mood meal' is a pretty rare thing.

    2. v
      vmd1123 May 23, 2011 12:51 PM

      if I'm in a bad mood you'd be lucky if I cooked at all...I usually tell my fiance to "find for yourself" either that or its chicken breast on the george forman and some steam fresh veggies! haha

      1. cowboyardee May 23, 2011 11:58 AM

        No offense intended to anyone....

        But IMO, silliness about 'cooking with love' is just a way for people to make themselves feel better about not cooking with skill, as though love was some great leveler rather than the irrelevant factor that it is. It is also a way to explain away arbitrary preferences on the part of the diner while pretending that said preferences aren't arbitrary at all -- 'Restaurant 'A's roast chicken is cooked with perfect technique but pales into comparison to Restaurant 'B's roast chicken which is cooked with real love' -- which is usually only to say that restaurant B's chicken tastes more like the chicken your mom made. On a very similar note, 'cooked with love' can be a catchall for any technique or ingredient a cook uses that:
        a) you like, and...
        b) sails right over your head.
        In other words, "dinner was cooked with love" sounds better than the more honest "dinner tasted great and I have no idea why." It's not love - often it's just MSG.

        I can be sad or worried or angry as hell and still make delicious, perfectly cooked food. And I can be in a great mood, singing happily to myself and dancing around the living room like a moron as my dinner catches fire under the broiler. I guess if I'm agitated enough to be distracted or to not care about how my cooking comes out, that'll have a negative effect. But that's kind of obvious.

        6 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee
          sunshine842 May 23, 2011 12:09 PM

          I think it's more tied to the fact that if you're cooking for someone you love, you're more likely to take extra care and go to greater lengths...you have a stake in the outcome (and maybe a steak) --

          Not to say you CAN'T cook a good meal for someone you hate or are pissed off at --- just that your motivation for give-a-damn drops pretty far.

          1. re: sunshine842
            cowboyardee May 23, 2011 12:20 PM

            Yet most home cooks seem to put more effort in when they're cooking for company or people they don't know very well than when they're cooking for their immediate family members. I dearly love my wife. My picky, picky, picky wife who wants the same few dishes over and over again with no variation. Frankly, I'd often rather cook for almost anybody else.

            How often do people find themselves cooking for someone they hate?

            1. re: cowboyardee
              sunshine842 May 23, 2011 12:32 PM

              apparently you've never been fortunate enough to have one of those couple friends where you adore him, but she's a royal bitch...or the other way round. Or the bosses' significant other is a pita.

              Sometimes social graces trump feelings, even though it's best to avoid that crap whenever humanly possible.

              and I think you're deep into the territory of CWP....cooking while pissed.

              (no, Harters - the American definition)

              1. re: sunshine842
                cowboyardee May 23, 2011 12:43 PM

                "and I think you're deep into the territory of CWP....cooking while pissed."
                ____
                How so? The wife thing? Naw, I've been resigned to that for years. Can't bother getting pissed off about it. I just welcome the opportunity when I get it to cook something different for someone who'll appreciate it.

                (the British version sure is fun, though)

          2. re: cowboyardee
            i
            Isolda May 23, 2011 01:02 PM

            Regardless of skill, a person who is in a bad mood is more likely to be distracted and make an error than one who is feeling fine. I think that was the point of the OP.

            1. re: Isolda
              cowboyardee May 23, 2011 02:15 PM

              So is a person who is ecstatic and excited. I believe the OP was implying there is more to it than mere distraction, or else why frame it against cooking with love?

              I don't think I misunderstood the OP - she was presenting a thought and asking people to run with it. I'm on a related tangent, ranting not against the OP but against a culinary cliche that annoys me. Thas all.

          3. onceadaylily May 23, 2011 10:24 AM

            Interesting question, Beach Chick. I've thought about this a bit as well.

            I have made fabulous meals when I was in a foul mood, and have had meals that fail when I was deliriously happy, and vice versa. My moods don't really affect my cooking (what I choose to cook, and how much or little I enjoy eating it, yes), but makes me more appreciative of my time in the kitchen. I was going through an incredibly difficult time in my life when I learned that I *love* to cook, and my association with cooking became one of distraction from whatever I was feeling. My kitchen was the place that I learned that I can get through anything, that I was going to continue to learn and grow and change, and be just *fine*. I am probably more likely to be eager to tuck myself into the kitchen to cook when I am angry or sad than when I am smiling, actually.

            1. j
              jcattles May 23, 2011 07:46 AM

              It definitely makes a difference with me. If I'm in a bad mood or don't want to cook, the meal isn't going to be great. I'll either under or over season, make the pasta mushy, add to much garlic, etc...

              If I'm in a good mood & feel like cooking, the difference in how it turns out is night & day.

              One exception, if I'm grumpy & I can take my time cooking instead of rushing to get dinner on the table, then the act of cooking can actually change my mood.

              1. i
                Isolda May 22, 2011 05:11 PM

                That happened to me tonight. I was feeling like an absolute bitch, plus we had no food in the house to speak of. DH suggested take-out, but I was in such a bad mood I couldn't even think of a restaurant whose food I wanted to eat. Not wishing to poison my family with evil witch food (I'd probably just saute some bitter greens with garlic and pepper flakes or something), I made chipotle mac and cheese over arugula, which everyone loves. DH and the kids were so happy about their benign, non-poisonous dinner, they were giving me lots of hugs, so I feel much better now.

                I guess the secret to getting out of a bad mood is to just follow a recipe you know people like (this is not the time for innovation) and please them with your cooking.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Isolda
                  l
                  lilmomma Jun 2, 2011 08:17 AM

                  Isolda...Recipe please for that mac and cheese. (Sorry for the hijack.)

                2. j
                  jlhinwa May 22, 2011 03:02 PM

                  Interesting question.

                  If I'm feeling a little stressed or off in some other way, cooking is the perfect therapy and I always find myself feeling better by the time dinner is ready.

                  If I am really and truly out of sorts, cooking (and cleaning up after myself and everyone else) will likely make me more uptight so I either let my husband take care of dinner or I make it really easy on myself (takeout or microwave).

                  1. s
                    sueatmo May 22, 2011 02:51 PM

                    I'm a home cook, and have been doing home cooking since 1970. I've cooked through all sorts of bad--and good--moods. I don't think I do as good a job if I am in a foul mood. Luckily that is rare for me. But for me, I might burn something or not take pains. I don't ever purposely ruin a meal, but if I am feeling energized and happy, I will do a better job, and be happy with what I put on the plate.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sueatmo
                      LindaWhit May 23, 2011 10:09 AM

                      I've cooked through all sorts of bad--and good--moods. I don't think I do as good a job if I am in a foul mood.
                      ~~~~~~~~

                      ^^^ That. And for me, it's because my focus is elsewhere, not on the preparation of the food. Sometimes the preparation process helps to pull me out of my funk, but not always. But if I'm in a bad mood, I often just don't *feel* like cooking and make something easy to fill my stomach, like cream cheese scrambled eggs.

                    2. EWSflash May 22, 2011 01:50 PM

                      If you haven't read "Like Water for Chocolate" you need to run and pick up a copy. It addresses the queston gloriously!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: EWSflash
                        nofunlatte May 22, 2011 02:06 PM

                        I thought of this book myself when I read the original post! Since then, I try to "de-pissify" myself if I'm cooking for company while ticked off.

                        1. re: EWSflash
                          g
                          givemecarbs May 23, 2011 01:02 AM

                          I thought of that movie too EWSflash. I try to keep some healthy frozen dinners in my chest freezer for just such emergencies. At least twice I have had to explain to people why even a simple grilled cheese sandwich for me to cook for them is a bad idea if my nerves are shot or I'm upset.
                          Once I got roped into watching two special needs boys for a day and the mother sent a cheese sandwich with butter for me to fry up for one of them. Those kids were a handful, she later explained that that was all the one boy would eat. I was really distracted and so lucky I didn't burn the sandwich. /shudder.
                          Sometimes I do better when I have an hour or so to prepare some nice comfort food, and the act of cooking calms and centers me. I think when I start to smell the food cooking I feel better. But give me a fifteen minute time limit when I'm a wreck and it's a recipe for disaster.
                          Not sure if the bad feelings actually "enter" the food but once the dentist kept me waiting over three hours for a scary painful procedure. I finished knitting a beautiful scarf while I waited but I'm afraid to wear it or gift it. If any object was filled with bad feelings that scarf is. Thinking of burying it. :)

                        2. e
                          ediblover May 22, 2011 12:47 PM

                          I enjoy the act of cooking (and eating!). (I haven't (seriously) worked in a professional kitchen or anything else heavily food related; guessing my views would change if I did) So, if I'm in a bad mood, cooking (and again, EATING!) just puts me in a better mood.

                          Also, in case this comes up, using food as a tool for revenge (having argument with person A, so you make something person A dislikes) is wrong! So, so wrong!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ediblover
                            mamachef May 22, 2011 01:00 PM

                            Wow, that's passive-aggression as artform. If I was that ticked at somebody, I'm pretty sure a home-cooked meal wouldn't be high on my "to do" list.....yep, you're right, that would be so so wrong. It was never the customers I was angry at; it was whatever else was going on BOH - 'cause we were hidden from view, no open kitchen

                          2. mamachef May 22, 2011 10:38 AM

                            For me the translation is direct and noticeable, with one exception: there have been times on the line when I was just so pissed off that it was crazy, and it actually spurred the energy I needed to just push through Service. For the greatest part, though, I don't take my daytime mood into my nighttime job. Or vice-versa. This wasn't a house with room for any kind of interpretable recipes, though; so it may have been that the lack of love wasn't noticed in those confines. At least, nothing came back. So that part at least, was good.

                            1. monavano May 22, 2011 08:53 AM

                              If I'm in a bad mood, I generally don't make dinner, I make a phone call to order Chinese or Thai. Hot and sour soup, Spring rolls and egg rolls lift my spirits a great deal.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: monavano
                                susancinsf Jun 1, 2011 07:39 PM

                                same here, although I insist that hubby make the call if it is a really bad mood....

                              2. MGZ May 22, 2011 08:37 AM

                                Other than being in average or above surf, cooking is the one thing that generally preoccupies my mind enough to eviscerate a bad mood. I will admit, however, that the spice/heat level will usually be higher if I start out feeling down.

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