Home Ec: What Cooking Skills Should Everyone Know?

This is a slightly different question than asking what skills every cook should know. This is everyone. You, your partner, your neighbor, your kids, your mailperson - every human being. Anthony Bourdain asks this question in his latest book Medium Raw and it really has us thinking.

Bourdain’s basic argument, which has also been made elsewhere, is that every person should have the basic knowledge and skills to feed themselves a decent meal. This is knowledge that has been gradually lost with the demise of home ec classes in school and the convenience of pre-made grocery store meals.

Of course, no one really wants a return to the fussy, boring home ec classes of yore. (Yes, I’m old enough that I remember these!) So Bourdain’s idea is to make cooking cool. Or more to the point, to make not cooking decidedly un-cool. Wouldn’t it be great, he says, if in the future “it’s the kid who can’t roast a chicken who should be considered the ‘spaz.’”

But back to those basic skills. Here’s what Bourdain thinks everyone should know:

• Chopping an onion
• Making an omelet
• Roasting a chicken
• The correct way to grill and rest a steak
• Cooking vegetables to desired doneness
• Making a vinaigrette
• Shop for fresh produce
• Buying a fish, cleaning it, and making it
• Roasting meat
• Roasting and mashing potatoes
• Braising meats and vegetables
• What to do with bones (a.k.a. How to make stock)

Sounds like a pretty good list to us! Though we’d probably add a few baking-related skills in there. We think everyone should know how to make chocolate chip cookies, a loaf of bread, and a birthday cake.

Do you agree? What would you add?

Related: For the New Graduate: A Crash Course in the Basics

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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