I'm sure many of you have read or heard of Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell's book about exploring the sources and drivers of exceptional success. One of the key themes in his book is the concept of the 10,000 hour rule--that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to get good at a new discipline.
Another way to think about that number is to call it 10 years of roughly 20 hours of intense practice per week. You wanna learn to sculpt? 10 years of practice. You want to earn a living playing blackjack? Yep, 10,000 hours.
But there's one discipline where the 10,000 hour rule is complete crap: cooking.
You can become a good cook, a really good cook, in a small fraction of that time. In fact, if you can read and follow simple instructions--a pretty low bar--you can learn the basics of cooking simple, good meals in a matter of days. Seriously.
How to go about learning to cook? First, spend a few hours perusing a basic, introductory cookbook. Books like Julia Child's The Way to Cook, Better Homes and Gardens and The Joy of Cooking are the traditional resources for learning how to cook, but a more recently published work like Delia's Complete How To Cook will teach you the basics just as well.
Second, spend just a few more hours trying some recipes out in your kitchen. If you're nervous picking out recipes, have a look at my essay on How to Tell if a Recipe Is Worth Cooking with Five Easy Questions. And if you're unsure what kind of cooking gear you might need to get started, read my essay on mastering the costs of setting up a kitchen.
Then, start cooking. You'll be shocked at what you can do in just your first few attempts.
Readers, what were your experiences like when you first began to cook?
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