Australians abandon cooking for take-away
by Louise D'Allura on February 18th, 2010

This article on Australians abandoning cooking for take-away is interesting with its thought provoking statistics and commentary.

The article highlights a record turnover of $2.9 billion dollars in the Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food services category over the last three months. It suggests that even though there has been an increase in the purchase of household cooking items, TV shows portray every meal as a mouthwatering delight that home cooks cannot live up to. There's no doubt many home cooks do feel an enormous pressure when cooking for others. I always say that one of the biggest hindrances to enjoying cooking is cooking when you have to impress others!!!

Dinner parties are a classic example. Usually your concerns are around the food not turning out like the picture or your guests not enjoying themselves!! Cooking and dinner parties really don't have to be super stressful, and you can make them as complicated or as simple as you like!

When I read articles about how home cooks are feeling the pressure to create restaurant quality meals for their friends it gets me thinking about where and how did I learn to cook and what were the skills I learnt from my family. Growing up in an Italian family meant I had the best education in how to cook mountains of food. It always has to be mountains of food because you wouldn't want anyone to go hungry or feel unloved! No matter what the occasion - birthdays, lunch, dinner or just an afternoon tea – it is always accompanied by lots of food.

Thinking back now we never labeled eating dinner together as a "dinner party" - it was good friends of the family coming over - planned or unplanned. Often you'd whip up food because you were having such a great time, you noticed it was near dinner time! You also didn't have a panic attack because it didn't look like it was plated up by a Michelin star chef. Even if it was something simple, it was the time you spent together that mattered the most.

The dishes created by Julie in the first MasterChef series really summed up the nurturing aspect of sharing food with family and friends that I have grown up with. In our quest for better balance, we end up making more rods for our back thinking we need to be achieving unrealistic standards. After all what makes life easy for a chef can make life hell for the home cook!

The best way to get comfortable with cooking is to cook what you feel comfortable cooking! Why jump straight into hosting a dinner? Why not start with a brunch. Some prep can be done ahead of time, and you can balance the bought items with home made items (e.g. home made muffins vs store bought muffins). And, don't forget the real reason you have a meal together, is to get together.

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