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Jun 25, 2012 08:58 AM

Conversing when you cook

I am not a multitasker and I find it difficult to carry on a conversation when I'm cooking. I have recently been gently chided for this. I was making a mexican meal. Skirt steak fajitas with refried beans with a side of steamed veggies and of course all the requisite condiments, guacamole, sour cream, salsa cheese, tomatoes. Not terribly difficult, but for me at least a fair amount of timing. Start carmelizing onions, skirt steak on the grill, start the beans, watch the onions, check on the steaks, get the tortillas warming in the oven, take the steaks off the grill, let them rest, check the onions, slice the steaks, get the veggies steaming. My guest said, as I started this, "Does this mean we can't talk?"

I felt bad and tried, but the real answer is yes. I will burn something, over cook something or forget something entirely. It's just my curse to bear.


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  1. Same with me, unless it's just a couple close friends. That's why I do everything possible in advance and have in low oven/warming drawer or for cold items, in their serving dishes in the fridge. For that dinner I would have only done the steak once my guests arrived and put the tortillas in the oven while I sliced the steak.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BubblyOne

      Ditto! There's no reason all of that work had to be done at the last minute.....

      1. re: KSlink

        In many circumstance this is true, but this was Friday, after work and guests arrived as I was getting home at 5. We spent an hour just talking and hanging out and then it was time to get dinner ready.


    2. When I cook it is most often a full-blown circus: I am almost always drinking, smoking, carrying on conversations, conducting text conversations on my phone, watching television or listening to the radio, coordinating with others that are cooking, and running between the various cooking stations and congregations that may have developed. It is a chaotic, exhilirating affair.

      As others do, I'm sure, I try to get a number of things out of the way before the "main event," so that I can spend as much time as possible visiting with my guest/s while I cook, but my preparedness is often lacking.

      In any event, it's fun, and I enjoy cooking in this fashion. Of course, doing so many things at once often leads to mishaps, and I have the cuts, burns, occasional fire alarm and a slew of dishes that needed to be corrected, trashed or restarted to prove it. Still, I wouldn't have it any other way.

      1. I love having people in the kitchen when I'm cooking. Heck, I've taught cooking classes so that certainly requires multi-tasking. Can't imagine not talking.

        1. There are only a few people I know well enough (or who know me well enough) to talk to while cooking. We can read each other, and know when to be quiet and let the other concentrate. Otherwise - get out of the kitchen, I don't know you like that :)

          1. Your opening five words say it all: "I am not a multitasker." You don't have to make excuses for that, but if it bothers you (and it appears that it does), you can improve your multitasking ability. At it's root, cooking a multi-course meal IS multitasking, so all you need to do is to challenge and expand your already extant skills.

            You probably find that, for some meals, they practically make themselves because you don't have to think about it - you've made it so many times you hardly have to think about what to do next. So record an episode of, say, "Jeopardy", and the next time you prepare one of those meals, turn on the recording and play Jeopardy (questioning the answers, making daily double wagers, the works) while you cook. It'll force you to divert your attention partially, while continuing on track with your meal prep. As your multitasking skills improve, increase the complexity of the meals.

            Another way to work on your multitasking (if your kitchen is big enough to allow it) is to prepare two completely different meals at the same time so they'll be ready at the same time. If you live alone, you can just put the second meal in the fridge for the next day.