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"It took me until college, really."

"I wasn't ever a picky eater, and my parents were way more than fine with that. So tuna casserole with those crunchy canned onions on top, beef stroganoff a la Hamburger Helper, taco salad or Lean Cuisine frozen meals it was. My mom used only margarine and tended to cook meat to death. I do think my mom tried her best (with being in one of the most abusive marriages I've heard of). So it all cascaded to me just eating at my sorority house for 2 years. My first year after I dropped the sorority I felt myself at the edge of a dangerous cliff: no friends, no meal plan. I'll learn how to cook, I said. And I did. Cook with the good stuff too. I rode my bike to a nearby Farmer's market. I talked to farmers, and I learned about food. I made all sorts of food, even made my own broth from scratch with chicken feet. My whole eating life was slow, whimsical, comforting and challenging. Most importantly I learned about good ingredients and how to maintain a good kitchen, what kitchen supplies you absolutely need, and what supplies you can forget or go cheap on. I built up a good spice cabinet. All of it was terribly fun. I don't have enough time to live as I did those two amazing years presently, but I still use the Yummly app to collect recipes and compile grocery lists so I can shop at the big box store. I still do a few niche things such as make my own vanilla extract and flavored liqueurs, but nothing compared to my hey day" (source).

"I used to cook omelet for my daughter like this:"

"Super little tiny chopped cucumber, spinach, and MUSHROOM (which is considered as the biggest enemy by my daughter and considered the most healthy by me) are secretly wrapped by the gorgeous egg skin with fried rice together, then of course that omnipotent ketchup! Isn't it cute, healthy and child-friendly? Am I smart? My daughter, 4 years old then, happily ran to my master piece, taking a big spoon...The spoon stopped on its way. 'It SMELLS like MUSHROOM.' Her calm voice continued, 'I like the omelet grandma made.' She always knew her mom was a bad cook." (source)

"The first time I had medium rare beef."

"My mom was an amazing lady. She was widowed with five boys, and made the conscious decision to raise us by herself, her way, rather than remarry (until we were all grown). The only problem was, she was a bit of a germaphobe. She generally cooked the life out of most food, because she was deathly afraid that undercooking anything would leave germs. Consequently, growing up, I thought I wasn't very fond of beef. The truth turned out to be that I wasn't fond of beef which had been cooked to death. Now I cook, and order, all beef with a nice, healthy, juicy amount of red-pink." (source)

"When I realized that eating a healthy, nutritional, balanced meal and eating a satisfying, tasty meal are not contradictory."

"I had mistakenly assumed a false dilemma that the only tasty food was empty and satisfying calories of junk food. But until I dabbled with cooking myself when I left my parents' place, I hadn't realized I had a choice. It's a matter of ranking your own priorities, and I found that good food is worth the effort of preparation to me. My parents have different priorities. My mother is very health-conscious but I did not particularly like the nutritional meals she served me, however, because my mother is extremely impatient and has a very practical, efficient and economic approach to everything she does. My mother never enjoyed being a homemaker but she had three children, so she did cook, but she cooked because she needed to get food on the table, and nothing more. She'd serve ingredients that make up a balanced meal, but she'd prepare them in a way that made them just barely edible. She served mostly bland, overcooked vegetables. I concluded I didn't like vegetables when it was mostly an issue of preparation methods. She didn't use any spices or seasonings or sauces or anything to spice up the food. She didn't experiment with food, she never tried any new recipes or new ingredients. In hindsight, I think that instead of resorting to junk food as a teenager just to eat something else than what my mother cooked, I should have taken an interest in cooking and learned some good recipes much earlier" (source).

"When I started cooking myself."

"It's usually claimed that Mom's food is the best and I honestly like what she cooks. I never cooked myself and I had a belief that anything except home food is bad for health. Anyway, 22 years passed by and finally it was time to leave India and move to US, on my own. First attempt at cooking, a fiasco. Second attempt still not good. After a month, I was good. A couple of months later I realized I had this natural talent of cooking which I never realized. Fast forward: A year later, I came to India to visit my family and had mom's food. It was as delicious as ever. But, the amount of oil she used, spices, salt etc were quite more than harmful to our body. I never realized it for 22 years. For the same delicious food, where I use 1 spoon of oil to cook, she uses 5-6. Now, I am really worried about my body and cholesterol and fat that body has gathered during last 22 years. That's when I realize that parents are, after all not good cooks at all" (source).

"Whenever I went round other people's houses..."

"I always did notice that sometimes the food was better but the real time I noticed they were bad cooks is when I started cooking. I suddenly realised how bland their food was. My parents are very British and can't cook a decent tasting meal to save their life and don't get me started on the non-existent seasoning. The most popular dish my mother cooked was sausages and mash . It's not even a hard dish to spice up, which is a staple of my mother's cooking really. She just cooks the raw ingredients and slaps them on your plate without adding to them. Her food is also drier than the Sahara desert, she could probably make gravy dry. So now I cook for myself because if you want it done right you do it yourself" (source).

"My mom thought she was a good cook. She wasn't."

"My parents married when my mother was a month away from turning 17 years old and my father was 21. When they married, she thought she could cook. She couldn't. But I thought, as a child, that mom was a really good cook. Of course, this was back in the days when people regularly bought boxed meal starters like Hamburger Helper and boxed side dishes like Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes and canned goods were staples in our pantry. I had never had a green bean or a mushroom or corn that didn't come out of a can or jar. Even potatoes were rarely made from a fresh potato. Rice dishes often came in a box, too, including things like Rice-a-Roni. Our biscuits and pancakes came from a box of Bisquik. Ingredients like onions and garlic could be found in powdered form. But this was the 70's and 80's and our way of cooking wasn't all that unusual. But my mom's cooking hasn't changed much. My daughter doesn't understand how I could say she was ever a good cook and I get it because her cooking really hasn't changed, but my palate has. When I moved out on my own around my early 20's, I remember taking one of my mom's go to recipes and 'elevating' it. I thought I was so clever, using fresh mushrooms instead of canned and real onions and garlic instead of powdered, none of which were properly cooked before I threw them into the sauce. It was much tastier" (source).

"Younger than 7. I say it that way because at 7 is when I did something about it."

"My mom had 3 dishes that she could cook with any skill. Mashed potato pie, Italian beef and banana bread. That's it. The only edible things she made. My step-dad did pancakes. I was a latch key kid with a 12 year old babysitter. Dinner was chicken pot pies or leftovers that didn't taste good the first time. So at 7 I grabbed a cookbook off the top of the fridge and went to town. I never looked back. Admittedly she knew she was a bad cook. By 8 or 9 instead of baking goodies for me to take to school, she asked me to bake them for her to take to work. Before I started cooking I thought cookies were supposed to be as hard as bricks. Luckily she encouraged me and indulged me by letting me write shopping lists. I encourage my kids to cook now as well, although I actually supervise them" (source).

"When I was first told 'Could you go down to the freezer and bring some meat for tomorrow lunch?'"

"'What kind? Doesn't matter.' After that it dawned on me. No matter what my parents cooked (apart from goulash), it all tasted the same. Be it beef, chicken, pork, hog... It is all done the same way. 220°C, the same spices, and bake it 'till you break it. When I first made Beef Wellington for them (which in years became my signature dish), it blew their minds" (source).

"When I got my first taste of good, old-fashioned institutional food."

"Cheerleading camp which was held for a week on a college campus. The food was run of the mill institutional. And I couldn't get enough of: Vegetables that were green, not grey. I actually didn't even recognize zucchini as the same vegetable, it looked and tasted so different. Bread that didn't have that whiff of mold. Tabasco sauce that wasn't brown (they never, ever, ever, to this day, throw away condiments.) Meat that actually was seasoned and salted. My mom doesn't believe in tasting food as she cooks, because calories, and doesn't add salt ever because heart disease. And the 'never throw away condiments' rule applied to most seasonings, too. Cookies, cakes and pies that weren't rock-hard. Milk that wasn't slightly curdled or off-tasting. I must have gained five pounds that week. I couldn't believe food could be so consistently good. All while my campmates were complaining that they missed their home-cooked meals" (source).

"When I was 9!"

"My mom would make the same dry baked and boring chicken dish multiple times a week. The final straw was when she served it completely burnt one night! Finally after having enough overcooked bland chicken my dad and I took over and became the cooks in the house! I have my mother's over baked chicken to thank for my career and passion for cooking"(source).

"As soon as I tasted the foods they prepared."

"My parents' cooking got worse over the years as my father started getting more extreme in his avoidance of fats and salt, thus most dinners were overcooked and boiled, with no salt or seasoning. I still remember asking my mother when I was only 4 why the yolks of the hard boiled eggs she had made were gray" (source).

"My mum is an amazing cook, but my dad…"

"He was left one day to cook pasta for me and my brother. He had to boil the water, put salt, then add the spaghetti, wait a bit, remove water when ready and add the sauce my mum had made. Simple, isn't it? I still remember how impossible was to eat that spaghetti. They had become a salty ball thanks to my dad" (source).

"Both my parents were children of depression era parents..."

"Canned vegetables WERE our vegetables. My first year of college in 1991, I was served a fresh spinach salad at a restaurant. I could NOT believe it was really spinach. I refused to believe this robust FRESH and crunchy, visually stunning salad was spinach. It was absolutely DELICIOUS! My previous 18 year relationship with spinach consisted of canned spinach drained and cooked in a broth of apple cider vinegar until is resembled slop. HOURS!! Hours, I sat at the table after dinner refusing to eat it and subsequently unable to leave the table. Now I can laugh as my parent still PREFER canned spinach to fresh because THEIR parents cooked spinach to death with cream and sugar!! Spinach porridge" (source).

"If you're a Bisquick family, your parents might not care as much about meal preparation and cooking as a family that makes 'cakes from scratch. "

"Not quite answering this question, but I realized my parents were (and are) great cooks when I started eating at my friend's houses in high school. Example. My dad always made pancakes on Sunday morning from scratch. When I'd sleep over at a friends house and pancakes were on the morning menu, the parents would, without fail and every time, use Bisquick. When you're used to homemade-from-scratch deliciousness, and someone gives you a flat, playdoughy tasting 'pancake,' it doesn't cut it. That, among a couple other examples (stove top popcorn vs microwave; Preggo vs homemade; etc.) when I realized my parents took food seriously" (source).

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