Is home cooking an art, or a craft?
Some friends and I were discussing this the other day-- do you consider cooking an art or a craft, or does it even matter? Obviously, food can be prepared "artistically," esp. when considering presentation, but when you're cooking dinner for the family, do you consider yourself an artist, or a crafts person. Or, are we the only crazy group of people who ever think about this kind of thing? ;)
First post, looking forward to discussions!
The simple answer is it is both.....but I favor cooks who approach it as a craft based on the foundation of basic fundamentals....not the whimsical experimenter.
Cooking is a skill which may be honed to a craft.
If seriously considering "cooking" as a culturally defined "art", then one must immediately examine the definition of "art". I enjoy food as much as the next mammal; however, I would not confuse tasty, well-plated sustenance with art.
Yes, it's both if you do it right, just as the proper pursuit of any art requires technical skills and the willingness to use them with care and attention. I am not the most skilled craftsman in the kitchen, being a tad clumsy with knives and frequently losing whatever tool I'd just put down, but I'd call myself a good cook. The skill I'm happiest about acquiring is the ability to make a coherent dish from a lot or a very few basic ingredients, because I know what those things taste like and can imagine how they'll taste together with adequate accuracy. I can also smell and taste an unfamiliar ingredient, such as an Ethiopian spice mixture, and come up with a dish to use it in, something that would be way outside our usual repertoire.
As for recipes, those are mostly for inspiration, for studying and maybe trying. For most baked goods and sauces I'll follow recipes carefully, but for the things of that nature that I cook a lot, like gravies, thickened sauces and cornbread, I can easily wing it and maybe throw in some variations.
I tend to think that it's more than an art or craft. Cooking is one of the purest expressions of what it means to be human: we must eat, and for most of our history we were required to cook in order to eat. I'd say it's most like love: usually rewarding, occasionally frustrating, and sometimes (if you're lucky) transcendent.