Nutritional benefits of cooking at home are well documented, but lesser documented is the impact that cooking together has on relationships. How does cooking together improve your bond? Does it? It turns out, yes - and very much so. No matter where you are on the spectrum of how much you enjoy cooking, cooking together can help create and continue a strong relationship.
HOW COOKING TOGETHER IMPROVES YOUR RELATIONSHIP
COOKING TOGETHER DEEPENS THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR BOND
Michael Pollan's Netflix series Cooked wisely stated the art of cooking is in the very foundation that makes us human. One of the core differences in the human species is our enjoyment of food. If cooking is in the very foundation of being human, then working together toward that shared enjoyment of eating is in the very foundation of what establishes human bond.
COOKING TOGETHER CREATES POSITIVE MEMORY ASSOCIATION
Life's most important and special moments don't just involve food - they often they revolve around food. Mother's Day brunch, a multi-course wedding dinner, eating lucky foods for a prosperous New Year, thoughtfully considered cake for the 1st birthday, and the list goes on. The preparation of these celebratory moments is an important part of memory association, and creates lasting memories comprised of smells, tastes, sounds, and textures.
Taste aversion, for example is a powerful emotional memory that contributes to the theory of survival of the fittest. If you ate a poisonous berry that made you sick, that flavour could induce nauseous if you tried to eat it again. The same is said about positive memories. Experimental research by Herz and Schooler in 2002 shows memory involving smell is possibly even more powerful than memories evoked by visual or verbal cues. As such, moments in the kitchen have the opportunity to create powerful, positive and lasting memories. Flavours and smells created with a loved one in the kitchen can reignite special memories for lasting positive associations in the future.
COOKING TOGETHER LETS YOU FOCUS ON SIMPLE THINGS
On-going studies are examining the way in which technology is impacting human communication and interpersonal interaction. Research conducted at Stanford University found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time. It's increasingly important for mental health to find time to focus.
Cooking and eating together are essential parts of the day for cultures in many parts of the world; however as technology presses the expectation of productivity deeper in our lives, those moments are becoming fewer. New World culture has neglected to carry forth traditions of the Old World siesta so famous in places like Italy and Spain where you return home in the middle of your day to cook, eat and take a nap. Productivity has become more valued than family and emotional nourishment. Unfortunately that emphasis on productivity also has a shown a direct connection to high stress and poorer quality of life.
Cooking together and spending time together in the kitchen enjoying conversation gives you a chance to pause and focus on the simple things. Mindful cooking is a meditative experience, and that focus allows you to enjoy the moment and your relationship.
COOKING WITH YOUR CHILDREN DEVELOPS LIFE SKILLS
Cooking with your children is important in their development. The American Institute for Cancer Research, Web MD and others have detailed cooking with your children results in an increase in self-esteem, creativity, cultural awareness, curiosity, team work, acceptance, and ultimately bonding. Studies show cooking even helps develop a deeper understanding of math. These tasks however are not just important in childhood, but continuing as an adult to grow and learn.
COOKING TOGETHER BUILDS TEAM WORK
Skill building doesn't stop with youth. Cooking as an adult develops curiosity, appreciation, creativity, and team work, all of which are proven to be important in healthy romantic relationships.
We had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Sue Johnson, renown author and the leading developer of Emotional Focussed Therapy (EFT). Her approach to couples therapy and the proactive nature of emotional bonding is said to have 90% improvement rate in couple relationships. This approach has been regarded by press, such as the New York Times, as the most successful rate of any couple seeking to reconnect. We asked Dr. Johnson about the importance of daily activities like cooking in a romantic relationship.
"Any shared activity that is done with attention, accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement is good for bonding in a couple", says Dr. Johnson. “Our emotional connection is as necessary to our survival as oxygen and food. As it relates to the kitchen - chopping, frying, mixing, blending, listening to music and dancing together - these times in the kitchen are moments to coordinate together and make a couple strong. When a couple feels a trusted and well-coordinated emotional connection - they can do everything well together.”
COOKING TOGETHER ENCOURAGES CURIOSITY
Research shows the more curious a couple is, the more they feel stimulated and energized by their partner. Cooking allows you to experience new tastes, discover new wine, and experiment with global flavours and ingredients. It opens new doors thereby encourages new questions. Cooking together allows you to transport yourselves to a different part of the world for the day, which is the next best thing to hopping on a plane.
COOKING TOGETHER DEVELOPS BETTER COMMUNICATION
Cooking with someone requires great communication, everything from chopping instructions to timing the meal. Just like a restaurant kitchen, communication can make or break that night's dinner service, and the same goes in your own kitchen. Regularly developing your communication skills will help you get through anything together.
COOKING TOGETHER BRIDGES CULTURES
We were in The Chef & The Dish Test Kitchen conducting classes with our chefs. As we cooked together, we shared different cultures, talked about our different holidays and traditions, but we had something very important in common - the enjoyment of something delicious. No matter how different your day-to-day may seem, cooking with the chefs from another part of the world allowed us to see more similarities than differences. The same goes for personal relationships. Differences are part of any relationship. Sharing a common goal allows those differences to dissipate as you work together. And the more you work well together, the more pleasure it brings.
It’s part of why we started The Chef & The Dish. The benefits of cooking together are many. So, hang up the keys, open a bottle of wine (or some juice for the kids) and get cooking.
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