Mageirocophobia: A Fear of Entertaining

Okay, so mageirocophobia is technically a fear of cooking not a fear of entertaining but recent research on the topic tells me it comes in many forms and this is one. I clearly do not suffer a fear of cooking, it is my absolute favourite thing to do and one of the few things which really calms my crazy mind in this crazy world. Being in my kitchen up to my elbows in ridiculously complicated batters and marinades is my idea of heaven, and a great stress relief. Given I am one of those annoying people who over-thinks stuff constantly, taking this time out is important.

I recently cooked a full meal for the first time for someone I have known for many years and was asked why this was? A valid question given I love to cook! This particular friend is quite possibly the queen of throwing parties and I have enjoyed her hospitality many times so I was definitely put on the spot. After lamely trying to explain my fear of entertaining, without success, I went looking for answers and discovered I am not the only person who suffers from this. I doubt many of them are as a big a foodie as I am though, and it did make me wonder what would have happened if I did get onto Masterchef…Would I have been too fearful to cook for the judges and so had a very short experience? Did this underlying fear of being exposed as less than perfect impact my performance during the auditions? Is this why I decided to change recipes at the last minute, without actually having tried the sauce with less chilli? Perhaps not making it was a blessing in disguise!

The most common manifestations of mageirocophobia are listed below. After reading through them I think it is quite obvious which one I suffer from – my fear comes from not presenting something which is perfect, whether that is presentation or the dish itself. Given no one would come to my house expecting a perfectly plated dish, or would judge me if something wasn’t chef’s hat quality, it is a fear which has no basis in reality.

I have always held myself to a set of impossible standards I would never dream of imposing on anyone else and so will always be doomed to failure unless I change my way of thinking. I’ve never cared if a friend served me something which was not technically perfect, I’ve just been thankful they have taken the time to cook for me at all. Nor would I care if I couldn’t eat at a proper dining table. Why should I be any different? I also always say that fear is never a reason not to do something and that has pushed me to try new things many times. So…. my resolution for 2015 is to start cooking for people. I love to cook but living alone means that cooking anything too complex requires someone to cook for, or eating the same thing for a week!

Overcoming this fear would really be a win-win… I could actually enjoy my passion on a greater level, and people would stop assuming I was an anti-social so and so who just didn’t make any effort at all!

So, look out for invites people… and I promise to try to serve you something you will enjoy, whether it is “perfect” or not.

Are you a perfectionist too? Does the idea of something not being perfect stop you from doing it?

Common manifestations of Mageirocophobia.

  • Fear of Causing Illness – This appears to be the most common cooking phobia of all. It is true that there are a number of possible foodborne illnesses, and media coverage has led us to believe that they are quite common. People who have this fear are generally afraid of contamination, spoilage and/or undercooking. This fear may be more common in those who do not fully understand the reasoning behind many “food rules,” as well as those who spend a lot of time reading about foodborne illnesses.
  • Fear of Serving Inedible Food – This phobia can be divided into many factors. A lot of cooks are overwhelmed by seasoning options. They do not trust their own abilities to mix flavors or determine the best choices for each dish. Many cooks fear overcooking or having their food turn out dry or soggy.
  • Presentation Concerns – Some cooks are perfectionists. They may worry over how the food looks, whether the glasses are entirely spot-free and even whether the tablecloth is perfectly centered. This phobia seems to be triggered most often when giving a dinner party or otherwise entertaining at home. However, some cooks experience this even when cooking for close family.
  • Fear of the Cooking Process – Many cooks worry about cutting themselves, burning themselves or having other difficulties with the process. Some are afraid of techniques that they do not fully understand, from blanching to poaching.
  • Fear of Recipes – Some cooks are intimidated by recipes that seem complicated or overly long. They may question their ability to perform all of the steps or worry that they will miss a step.

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