Cooking Nerdery

Lev Grossman makes his case for the Gastro-Nerd; that special degree of nerdiness involved in a love for cooking.  I tend to be right there with him on many of the points.  Cooking is something that you can really dork out about, and I find that I have been doing it quite a lot lately.  The thing is that I don’t think cooking itself is nerdy, but that the devout love and interest that one can instill in the pursuit of cooking definitely parallels some of the traditional pursuits of geekiness. 

For me, cooking is perhaps one of the most relaxing and enjoyable tasks I can approach on any given day (assuming of course I want to cook something, which is a must in the first place).  I love it.  But cooking is a newer area of major interest to me.  While I have been cooking to some degree for several years it has not been until the last several that I have really found myself enjoying the process.  And I do pursue it with a degree of interest that can only be described as nerdy.  Just a week or two back a purchased Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and have found myself since picking it up to read, with extreme fascination, every night since.

The concept of nerd has become one that is readily contemplated and discussed throughout our culture.  You may consider it the dorky anti-social teen with thick glasses who would rather spend hours trying to figure out continuity problems between Star Trek: TOS and Star Trek: TNG.  Or perhaps you label yourself a nerd for your keen knowledge of all things to do with motion pictures (a classic movie nerd).  Essentially the label has shifted and is in need of closer scrutinizing.  I don’t think it needs have as much to do with the degree of social aptitude as much as how we are able to express passionate interests.  As such an extreme fascination and passion in regards to cooking is probably just as nerdy as an extreme knowledge and interest in the all the stats of the athletes on your favorite sports team (I realize suggesting that sports interest is nerdy is almost sacrilegious, but I don’t care.  My brother is a genius when it comes to knowing sporting facts and figures and honestly listening to him talk about any of it just strikes me as pure geekiness.  There is nothing wrong with it, it is just nerdy, get over it).

So yeah, I’ll take being called a cooking nerd any day.  I might not be the best cook in the world, and I might not have the coolest kitchen gadgets (I just got a coffee grinder, which I think is the fanciest kitchen tool I may currently own), but I love cooking and reading about cooking and thinking about cooking and all that.  So fine, I’m a gastro-nerd or whatever you want to call the geek kitchen culture.

Note: Alton Brown from Food Network’s Good Eats is the epitome of gastro-nerd, if not all other realms of nerdery.

~ by Nathaniel on April 8, 2009.

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