Cooking Personality Disorder

It’s really time to get back to posting some recipes, but humor me one day more – I found this to be an interesting exercise (and being in the middle of not one, but two piles of real estate paperwork, I simply haven’t had time to play in the kitchen!) I recently blogged about the supersizing of cookbook recipes – who ever imagined that home cooking might be as much part of the American weight problem as fast food? – and today, more from one of the main characters in that post, Brian Wansink.

In the New York Times “Well” blog, Tara Parker Pope reprints a “cooking personality” quiz from Wansink’s book, Mindless Eating. The quiz, reprinted here from Parker Pope’s blog,  is meant to determine whether you are a giving, methodical, healthy, competitive, or innovative cook:

1) When I prepare a meal, I typically:

a) Rely on classic dishes my family has always enjoyed.
b) Follow a recipe step-by-step.
c) Substitute more healthful ingredients.
d) Go all out and try to impress my guests.
e) Rarely use recipes and like to experiment.
2) Some of my favorite ingredients are:

a) Lots of bread, starches and red meat.
b) Beef and chicken.
c) Fish and vegetables.
d) A trendy ingredient I saw on the Food Network.
e) Vegetables, spices and unusual ingredients.

3) In my free time I like to:

a) Visit with friends and family.
b) Organize the house.
c) Exercise or take a fitness class.
d) Be spontaneous and seek adventure.
e) Take part in creative or artistic pursuits.

4) My favorite things to cook are:

a) Home-baked goodies.
b) Casseroles.
c) Foods with fresh ingredients and herbs.
d) Anything that lets me fire up the grill.
e) Ethnic foods and wok dishes.

5) Other people describe me as:

a) Really friendly.
b) Diligent and methodical.
c) Health conscious.
d) Intense.
e) Curious.

There may be overlap in the answers you give, but is there one letter that you picked most often? Here’s what your answers say about your cooking style:

a) Giving: Friendly, well-liked and enthusiastic, giving cooks seldom experiment, love baking and like to serve tried-and-true family favorites, although that sometimes means serving less healthful foods.

b) Methodical: Talented cooks who rely heavily on recipes. The methodical cook has refined tastes and manners. Their creations always look exactly like the picture in the cookbook.

c) Healthy: Optimistic, book-loving, nature enthusiasts, healthy cooks experiment with fish, fresh produce and herbs. Health comes first, even if it means sometimes sacrificing taste.

d) Competitive: The Iron Chef of the neighborhood, competitive cooks have dominant personalities and are intense perfectionists who love to impress their guests.

e) Innovative: Creative and trend-setting, innovative cooks seldom use recipes and like to experiment with ingredients, cuisine styles and cooking methods.

I must have a cooking personality disorder – I had to finally admit defeat: for every question, I would probably have to say “all of the above,” or perhaps more accurately, “all of the above except ‘d.'” So maybe I did manage to learn that I am NOT competitive – which I already knew.

I did, however, enjoy Parker Pope’s further discussion of the quiz and the concept of “nutritional gatekeepers” in “Who’s Cooking? For Health, It Matters.” (Thanks, Peter, for sending me that link – it’s been a “don’t have time to skim the paper kind of week!”) With the cost of processed food and frozen food rising, more Americans are turning to home cooking – now the question seems to be, “How healthful IS home cooking?”

Fun quizzes like Wansink’s are certainly a way to raise the public’s awareness of the potential pitfalls of home cooking, but I hope it will send us to the kitchen rather than make us run screaming from it!

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