Cooking is easy! You just need a little patience; play a little opera or jazz while you cook up a storm in the comfort of your own kitchen, have a little boogie while you hop from one task to the next, imagine your wooden spoon is a microphone and that you are singing in front of a crowd of thousands!
Cooking does not have to be dull … it is up to you to find the joy in something so fundamental as the nutrition you put into your body. Winter in Valencia is my favourite time of year for being in the kitchen making thick, full bodied soups and stews, real hearty winter food, full of calories. Now I must point out that it is also the best time of year from my point of view to go cycling, running or doing sport in general, so as to burn some of those calories and also as you no longer have the summer heat, beating down on you.
Winter is a time for baking and making all those dishes which are too heavy to eat during the hot months of summer. Moreover you do not need to buy everything pre-made from a supermarket. Too many of us buy packaged ready made meals, such as ready made lasagne, ready made soups, stews and there are even Valencians! who buy ready made paella! yes…. it is a sad truth that less and less young Spanish people have any interest in cooking; do not misunderstand me, they love eating! They are just not keen on having to make any effort when it comes to preparing it; after all, mother makes everything so why bother to learn.
When I left home at 18 years of age, I had no choice but to learn to cook. Cooking is not about being a “Masterchef” that is all just elitist rubbish. Food should be simple and honest. The simplicity part should be reflected by its no frills presentation and the honest part should be reflected by its fresh, organic ingredients. If you start out with good quality ingredients, then that is half the battle, all you need to do then is improvise, play a little jazz, find out what you and your friends are fond of, as we all have different tastes. Delicious food is very subjective, what I consider to be yummy, others might consider to be too bitter, bland or sour. If you have a little balcony at home like myself or simply a bit of space next to a window, then you can grow a lot of the most basic ingredients to add flavour to a wide range of dishes such as thyme, basil, peppermint, red chili peppers and mint. They smell incredible in your flat and give a kick of life to any dish.
However, you should always be open to new experiences, try a teaspoon of whatever it is your host is offering, not only is it polite but you may even be pleasantly surprised by the new tingling sensation on your tongue.
In any case, do not be a food snob by learning to love the whole experience and ALWAYS be grateful that your plate and fridge is always full!