Music: the one thing you’re constantly surrounded by every single day whether you know it or not. Whether you’re out at a five star steakhouse or deciding whether or not to go for that Pumpkin Spice Latte, music is there. Its lurking presence is something to be had, but not the something that aims to cause an annoyance in your life. It’s something to fill the void, the spaces in between, the lulls of life. Music – like the culinary world — is about expression.
Around 60,000 years ago, a type of “‘cultural explosion'” occurred, bringing forth cave paintings and chanting. These explosions, as John Black describes, were likely the beginnings to the emergence of the music we know today. The music that entertains us while we wander the isles repetitively at the grocery store; the music that plays on Christmas morning when the family is waking up, and the aroma of freshly made gingerbread pancakes and coffee fills the air. If music is this involved in the spirit of dining that we’ve all come to know and love, why is it ignored when introducing newbies into the cooking game?
Whether you’re a newbie to homemade, you’ve mastered your cooking routine, or are in a cooking funk — look no further for an upgrade than music. Why music? Well, music has a specific cognitive reaction when processed from start to finish. Johns Hopkins’ School of Education even found out that music “stabilizes mental, physical and emotional rhythms to attain a state of deep concentration and focus.”
What does this mean for you? Everything.
Fight The Blues
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One of the hardest parts (in my experience) about getting into cooking is getting into cooking. With so many options that are fast and healthy —such as My Fit Foods or Blue Apron — the art of carefully crafting meals seems less plausible and certainly less efficient. But when you’re creating the meals you’ll be eating in house, you can cater and specialize your meals to your tastes, and also monitor what’s actually going into your food.
Getting inspired and motivated to nail down a recipe and go to the grocery store is hard enough on its own. Then you have to come home and actually make what took you essentially five years to find.
What do you do when your alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. and you have to be at work in an hour, yet have no desire to move from the cave you’ve created for yourself. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably plug into your favorite Spotify playlist in attempts to get psyched for the day. The same can (and should) be said about cooking. Even the most decorated cooks have moments of lackluster in the kitchen, only to get their heads back on track with the power of music.
If your job solely relies on creating and serving decadent plates that will make people salivate at first glance, then you’re going to need something to push you; a motivator of sorts. That motivator for these chefs is music. As Music Instrument Center points out, “People tend to connect to music most when it tends to highlight their particular situation or express the emotion they are attempting to achieve.”
By channeling that idea, utilizing music in the kitchen then excites you about the task at hand. When there’s a lull, there’s Madonna circa ’80s pop music. When there’s a grumpy customer who sends back a plate with choice words attached, there’s Metallica to get your head right and the energy back on top. These same theories and techniques can be utilized by you, too!
Now, you’re probably not cooking in a commercial-grade kitchen, or one that resembles that of Rachel Ray’s cooking show. Luckily, that has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to get pumped up about cooking with the power of music. If it’s gloomy out and you’re going for a loaded vegetable soup via dutch oven, put on some Jack Johnson (Banana Pancakes, anyone?) and let it soothe your soul while you make soul-soothing soup.
Or say you’re doing your first run-through of a Sunday night meal prep. This is going to take some time, and you’re going to need entertainment and highly energized sounds to keep plugging away. There’s also the whole “Food for the week is getting cooked in advance now” thing, too.
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Like anything new, cooking can be intimidating, confusing, and seemingly a waste of time. What you’ll find is the progression from initially making one meal a week with three songs, to three meals a week with seven songs.
Next, you’ll spend three hours in the kitchen with your designated cooking playlist bumping through your speakers, and killing the cooking game the way only you could. One day, you’ll look around and forget that you once disliked it all.