Competence and Cooking

Nigella Lawson is a Food Author and a TV personality  who I adore immensely. Very often I watch her You Tube videos, whether it be her Cooking Videos where her commentary on food adds another layer of deliciousness to what shes cooking complimented by her graceful and effortless cooking skills, or her Interviews where her hands are flailing in the air during explanations and dominating the interview with her striking beauty, enthusiasms and honest explanations of her perspectives on many things in life. 

On one such interview I stumbled upon this notion which seized my attention and continued to be repeated over and over again in my head for days. Chosen as ABC’s ‘Person of the week’, Nigella talks about the importance of competence as a virtue and how it is often an undervalued one. 

Sitting poised on a stool, with a straight elegant posture and in a figure hugging purple dress Nigella talks about the importance of competence in life when asked by the interviewer of her take on self-confidence.

” … unless you are very competent, any confidence is false. It’s the notion that I can provide for my own existence and I think that arms you.” 

When she puts it that way, it makes a lot of sense and its motivational to an incompetent to become competent. Often we are so fixated on being confident people that we tend to overlook or forego having to do the necessary ground work to strengthen the foundation for that confidence. Competence is the necessary ground work that needs to be done in order to feel trully confident and sustain that level of confidence. For instance at work; it’s only when we are very competent at it that we can become confident in it. Competence is the key ingredient for confidence. 

That’s what I try to be these days – to be a competent person, to be able to do things very well or improve on key areas of my life I feel lacking. Whether that be cleanliness, neatness, time management or learning new essential skills such as cooking. With all that I do I keep that phrase – competence – in my mind. It’s sort of my theme of the moment, I try to wake up to the word every morning – my goal of the day is to be competent. 

In a day I try to get a lot of things done before I go off to bed early at around 10pm at night. For one, I do this so that I have no excuse to do anything before bedtime, keeping myself from that dreaful insomniac trap that I often walk into. Also I feel that being alive and having the energy and ability to do things, one should not take it for granted. It is a huge privilidge to be alive so with that in mind we must be enthusiastic everyday. Competence comes by easily and effortlessly when we are feeling really excited about the day and just throwing all our energy into it. 

I have just gotten into cooking lately – I have never known how to cook prior to this, I was reluctant for 2 possible reasons; fear of giving people food poisoning or just plain incompetent laziness. Just recently I decided that I am going to cook more often – I am going to become a domestic goddess like Nigella (I know, lofty glittery goals often works for me otherwise I’d just be bored). 

Challenges are there in cooking but I find that when we throw ourselves into tasks like cooking – where there is a dealine in the form of burnt food or overcooked meals – we can forget about any other external urgency but just be immersed into the activity, seized into the moment and become enthusiastic about having to produce an end result that we can be proud of. I forget that I am hungry when I start cooking but so far the end results have been at times commendable for someone who never knew how to cook before but other times the kitchen is a crime scene, investigators point at the contents in the pot and ask “What is that?”. Okay no, I am exagerating, it’s not that bad.

Cooking for me is one of my competency indicators, by cooking a lot I believe I will in time become better at it and eventually become confident in cooking. By feeding people I become a better person to those who I feed and that gives me confidence that should arm me into becoming the bestest person I envision myself to be.