Columns, Opinion

KRANTZ: For the love of cooking

Ah, Thanksgiving, the holiday of food and cooking. But besides this Thursday, on which other day of the year do most people spend the whole day in the kitchen? The love of cooking is a dying passion, and the number of restaurants open on Thanksgiving proves it.

Still, there will be cooks in the kitchen this Thursday, and among them, Geoffrey Cohen, a self-prescribed foodie determined to keep the art of cooking alive.

Cohen, 21, who dresses in sweaters with collared shirts, keeps a log of what he cooks, noting particular favorites, unusual ingredients and odd combinations that work. More often than not, he snaps a photo of his latest masterpiece before digging in. Complex recipes don’t scare him, and he’s been known to whip up a souffl’eacute; on the spot.

‘It’s not that difficult,’ he said. ‘It takes 20 minutes.’ He talks faster when he gets excited about what he’s cooking, speaking with only a dash of a Southern accent. He waves his hands describing a chocolate mousse he made the other night.

Cohen’s parents instilled the habit of cooking every night.

‘I realize how lucky I am in that regard,’ said Cohen. ‘That’s just what I know, and what I grew up with and that’s what I’ll do my whole life. But I realize I am in the minority.’

This Thanksgiving, he’s in charge of dessert, and plans to make a tarte tatin, or fancy apple pie. Cohen picks up recipes like this one from The New York Times’ Dining section, and he keeps The Food Network on his television as background noise. The slight-framed economics and French major doesn’t resemble the stocky, balding chefs on television, but judging by their food, you’d never know the difference.

Cohen gladly shares his kitchen love, and is currently teaching his roommates to cook. Seth, whose culinary repertoire terminated with pasta, can now make a b’eacute;chamel sauce.

Cohen explained how many people fret over exact recipe measurements, when cooking is really about improvisation.

‘I just throw stuff in and it hardly ever has to be exact or precise. It’s trial and error. You learn from mistakes.’ And at least for Cohen, still tastes alright.

But he recognizes that most Americans don’t learn culinary habits from birth, and even fewer would get as excited as he was to receive an immersion blender for his birthday. Still, he encourages everyone to cook, especially on Thanksgiving.

‘It’s way cheaper, often faster,’ he said. ‘And it’s way tastier and way healthier too, and you can, like, adjust stuff according to your taste.’ He beams just thinking about the possibilities.

In 2008, 7.9 billion pounds of turkey was cooked in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Whether or not it’s your daily habit, Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where cooking a big bird should be fun. Cohen will be in the kitchen during at least part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, enjoying every minute of it. Hopefully he won’t be the only one.

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