Learning to cook can be an arduous, often-frustrating task that only proves worthwhile at the end of a long (hours or years, maybe) journey. It’s an incremental process that takes serious and long-term effort to finally reach the effortlessness of experienced kitchen-goers, no one will tell you it’s easy.

That being said, anyone can learn with just a few simple tools (the internet is an indispensable one) and a little bit of dedication. Like anything it’s helpful to have a foundation of techniques and ideas to gradually progress to more complex and freeform culinary tasks. Find someone you trust who won’t judge your inexperience and ask them to start from square one and work your way from there until you’re familiar with the basics. If you can handle chopping and sautéing and boiling and a few others, you can cook almost anything. Buy a decent recipe book and you’ll find a world of foodie opportunities.

Yes, cooking can be hard. In fact it can be really terribly hard even for those people that do it as a serious hobby or on a daily, professional basis. Occasionally a recipe doesn’t come out right or some ingredients might not behave the way you want them to, but these are just further challenges on the quest to becoming a “good” cook, however you might define that. As you improve you’ll rely less and less on explicit directions and more on your own intuition and ideas of what works and what doesn’t , which recipe makes the best mac and cheese, the easiest tomato sauce. Trial and error will always be your best research tool. And no matter what, understand that cooking should be first and foremost enjoyable, particularly when it’s for those who will be happy no matter what you end up concocting.

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