What is an acceptable level of preparation to be "cooking"?

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May 14, 2019
This is a deep problem I have been grappling with. At what point does it become cooking, and not merely preparing a meal?

We pretty much all use some level of pre-preparation in our meals. The vast majority of people do not make meals spring forth entirely from the ground, Minecraft-style, but harvesting their own crops and slaughtering their own animals. Similarly, most of us presumably don't make our own pasta from flour, or make our own ground chuck from a giant slab of beef.

But at what point does the simplification of the task turn it from an act of cooking to a mere act of warming the food? And, does the nature of the heat source change things? Is heating pre-prepared pasta in the microwave less or the same as warming vegetables in a pot over the stove?

MAPK phosphatase

Cell Death Regulator
Mar 21, 2019
When you're changing the protein and/or enzyme structure and/or configuration of the food through the application of heat, you are cooking it. Basically you're crossing a line that can't be crossed backwards (at least not easily since you can, hypothetically, un-boil a hard boiled egg).

Gustav Schuchardt

Retired Staff
True & Honest Fan
Aug 26, 2018
I think it's cooking if you're following a recipe with raw ingredients and using an oven/wok etc.

If you're just reheating or, God forbid, rehydrating, something then no.