Domestic cooking and cooking skills in late twentieth century England
This study came about in response to the interest in, and concern about, domestic cooking and cooking skills that has arisen in recent years. It critically reviews the current state of thinking about cooking and cooking skills, provides a critique of both popular and academic discourse and proposes new opportunities for policy and future research. With little existing empirically acquired knowledge and no theoretical convention for the study of cooking and cooking skills, the primary research was designed to be exploratory and to provide systematically researched insights and understanding. It took a qualitative approach in order to provide intricate detail about people's domestic cooking practices, the skills they use, and their beliefs and opinions about cooking in the home and a systematically researched understanding of these aspects of cooking. The findings revealed that "cooking skills" could be seen specifically as the skills of domestic cooking (as opposed to those of professional cooking) and as either "task centred" (the skills involved in a particular task) or as "person centred" (the skills of an individual carrying out a task in a particular context). They also revealed that the informant's (domestic) "cooking skills" consisted of many different types of perceptual and conceptual skills as well as mechanical skills and academic knowledge. The findings revealed that the informants had very individual approaches towards domestic cooking but that there were many beliefs and opinions that they shared. The research also found that there was a complex "interrelationship" between the informants' domestic cooking skills, their approaches towards domestic cooking and their domestic cooking practices and food choice. The findings of this study provide an additional and different perspective of the relationship between domestic food provision, cooking and cooking skills allowing the development of relevant debates and concerns. They clarify that cooking skills are an influence on food choice but show that this influence is complex. They challenge current theoretical explanations of the impact of technology on domestic cooking and food provision, for example, and the deskilling of the domestic cook.