Learn How To Cook Code

Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise…

—George Gershwin

Jamie Oliver is the jazz players of cooks. If you have ever seen his show, you know he never measures anything. He throws in a bunch of ingredients very rapidly into a pot. He puts the pot in the oven, and he gets a great meal. Does he know exactly how much salt has he put in? Sure. Just enough. But how many grams? He doesn’t have the faintest idea. He shouldn’t. Cooking, for Jamie Oliver, is an art form, an act of improvisation on a familiar theme.

Jamie Oliver is passionate about food and health. He is appalled by the obesity epidemic, and he attributes it to the lost art of cooking. The relationship between what we eat and who we are is inseparable. In his passionate Ted Talk, Jamie presents us with a mother of two. She can’t cook. She isn’t able to find her way in the kitchen enough to make even the most basic meals. Her children are eating too much fat and too much sugar, the main ingredients in cheap, ready made fast food.

If we are what we eat, we should learn to cook. We need to take control over our lives.

How To Become A Jazz Artist In The Kitchen

Learning any new skill is basically the same. I’ve learned to cook only a couple of years ago. I’m still a lazy cook, but I can get by if I have to. It’s a simple, four step system:

  1. Lose The Fear:  The thing that prevents you from cooking is fear. You have never done this before, so you think you can’t. Before you start, you need to lose this fear. Remember, you don’t have to study twelve years at the Sorbonne to make an omelet. Imagine the worst that could happen:
    The food will not be tasty. You will burn it. You will throw it away and order take-away.
    Hey, you were planning to take-away anyway, so why not try to cook first? You’ve got nothing to lose.
  2. Start Simple: Buy some fresh vegetables. Cut them. Go online and find a salad dressing that requires only three ingredients. Mix the three ingredients and put them on the vegetables. Congratulations. You have just cooked your first healthy dinner.
  3. Add complexity: Tomorrow, a tasty toast with cheese, a tomato and some ketchup. The day after, an egg. After a week, try baking a cake. In three weeks you will have created a dozen different dishes. Some you will like. Others – not so much. It doesn’t matter. You are now able to follow instructions in the kitchen. You are a almost a cook, way better off than you have started.
  4. Improvise: This is where learning becomes mastering. After you feel more comfortable with recipes, you can start improvising on what you know. You’ve been eating your entire life. You know about tastes. Take one of the dishes you have created in the last month, and improvise on it to create something new. Remember step one: what’s the worst that could happen? Not much. Go on. Try it. If you fail, try something different next time. You are on the way to being a cook.

Why You Should Learn To Code

Most people today feel about technology the same way as the woman in Jamie’s talk felt about the kitchen. They don’t understand it, and they don’t trust it. They buy technology but feel helpless whenever anything goes wrong.

I see people feeling helpless about technology everyday. They don’t understand how the computer works, and they are afraid they’ll terribly mess something up, so whenever there’s a problem, they run for the hills (or the nearest geek).

We have computers everywhere. Our laptops and our cellphones are obvious, but there are computers in our TVs, refrigerators and cars as well. We will soon have computers in our shoes and clothes and in our blood. It is imperative to have at least basic understanding of computation and code.

Our relationship with technology is as necessary and complex as our relationship with food. Learning how to code, even some basic stuff, will help people feel in control over their environment. Technology is not magic.

Code Jazz

The steps in learning to code are the same as learning to cook, the same as learning how to play. Lost the fear, start simple, grow complexity and improvise. You may never be a jazz player, a chef or a chief programmer. That’s OK. It’s not about mastering the art. It’s about becoming self reliant. It’s about being able to do, on your own, things you have to get help for. It’s about control.

Start today. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Here’s something to get you started:

Hey, it's dad. How do I print the flowchart?