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Cooking versus Entertaining


When I thanked a friend for how often she had my husband and me over for dinner and said how much she must enjoy cooking, she jumped in with: “It’s not cooking I like. It’s entertaining.” Ah: suddenly I realized I enjoyed entertaining too, aka having people over to the house—minus the food prep and pre- and post- cleaning. I was surprised by her remark because I thought of her as a foodie and had no idea she didn’t love cooking.

I began to wonder if others also found cooking tedious but enjoyed (what my parents called) company. My husband and I recently had an afternoon visit from out-of-town cousins we hadn’t seen in years who said they didn’t want to come for dinner, but only wanted to hang out with us. What a relief—though we did put out a few no fuss, store bought noshes. Not cooking felt great and I immensely enjoyed the afternoon with them.

I see four possible positions on the issue: 1) Like to cook, not entertain 2) Like to entertain, not cook, 3) Like to cook and entertain, 4) Don’t like to cook or entertain. My parents both liked having company. My father enjoyed cooking but didn’t do much of it due to his work schedule. My mother didn’t care for cooking. Me neither

Where do you fall on this spectrum? No right or wrong answers here, only preferences. Do you pretend to love cooking because you think you’re supposed to (especially as a female)? Do you think you should enjoy entertaining but secretly hate and dread it? Is your idea of a good time ordering take out and serving it on paper plates with plastic utensils or do you feel pressure to serve food cooked from scratch on your best china?

Do you enjoy messing about in the kitchen, then eating your creations solo or with 1 other person, but shudder at the thought of cooking for a crowd or having people judge what you make? Are you happiest passing on both cooking and entertaining and, instead, prefer dining at a restaurant and being waited on?

Many people get so anxious about cooking for others they can’t enjoy themselves. They fear judgment about their kitchen skills and entertaining prowess. They might enjoy cooking more for others if they weren’t constantly comparing their dishes to what they’d been served at their guests’ homes. Then again, other folks love nothing more than testing out recipes with company and could care less (or very little) about how the dishes actually turn out. The fun is in sharing their culinary experiments.

Be honest with yourselves about your cooking and entertaining sentiments. Push away any shoulds or fears of how others’ might view you. Just enjoy being your unique self.