I'm usually not one to play mobile games. After all, I own a six-year-old iPhone 6S with sixteen gigabytes of data and a barely functioning battery. So fitting a mobile game on this relic, let alone playing the game, is an intimidating task. Still, one of my editors asked me to take over a mobile gaming article, so I decided to try the Apple Arcade service. That's when I met my new mom: Cooking Mama.
Being an adult is an unpredictable hot mess. One moment, you'll live on your own in an apartment in Queens, feeling reasonably independent. And in the next moment, a global pandemic will hit. Then, finally, you'll move back in with your parents and become the family's weak link, barely making enough money to be considered a person of substance or value. Thankfully, playing Cooking Mama reminds me that I have value, no matter what. So here are some simple phrases she'll say that regularly repair my self-esteem.
10 "It's Okay. You Just Need A Little More Practice!"
Like any passion in life, cooking presents goals that sometimes seem unattainable. There's always that moving goalpost, demanding a higher standard of perfection. You can practice a dish all night, to the point of losing sleep. Then you'll come into acting class the following day and be told, "Chris, there's no specificity in this scene," by the College Acting Department Chair-Whoops. Freudian slip.
I'm trying to say that you need to put your nose to the grindstone to learn any new skill. So, in turn, failure is a necessary, unavoidable component. Still, it feels nice to get that boost of encouragement that says, "Hey. I've faced the same frustration you have. This is normal. You'll come out the other end stronger from this experience." Cooking Mama gets that.
9 "Come On! You Can Do It!"
Sometimes you just need that kick in the pants. Like when you're stuck in bed at one in the afternoon thinking to yourself, "There's no way I'll make my article quota this month. And this bed is so comfy. Maybe I should give up."
But Cooking Mama won't let you off the hook that easily! Instead, she'll encourage you, reminding you that you are a resilient thirty-year-old force of nature that can't be beaten! So, you hop out of bed, eat a bowl of non-fat plain greek yogurt mixed with Cookie Crisp cereal, make a coffee, and get to work! I CAN DOOOOOO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
8 "Keep It Up!"
"Keep it up" is such a sweet compliment. It says, "I love what you're doing and want more." Whenever someone says, "keep it up," I feel heartened. And you know what, I keep going!
And Cooking Mama tells me that compliment even when I get two out of three stars. So I guess being mediocre pays off!
7 "Here's An Idea From Mama. How About Trying This?"
You know you're on the right track when you can break the rules a little. So, when Cooking Mama suggests a new way to cook a tried and true dish to me, I get so excited! Not only is she confirming I got that chili recipe down, but she's also willing to teach me a new way to make it! How scrumdiddlyumptious!
When a mentor talks shop with you, it's their way of saying they trust you. It's like once when I watched a rehearsal of a fellow student's thesis in college. My acting professor sat next to me and gabbed about the production: what worked, what didn't, etc. I felt so trusted and respected.
6 "Looks Yummy!"
Who doesn't love being told their food "looks yummy?" That's the equivalent of "I want to eat this." Someone wants to eat my cooking! And not just anyone, COOKING MAMA, the Mama of Cooking, wants to taste my food!
That's like Gordon Ramsey looking at your dish and saying, "good work." (By the way, can Mr. Ramsey be my Cooking Daddy?)
5 "Incredible! You're So Talented!"
Anyone who has pursued a career in the arts, whether visual, performing, written, or culinary, knows that the word "talented" hits different. Bells and whistles go off in our heads, and a dopamine rush floods our brains. Yet, this word has eluded us: never heard from the mouths of agents, directors, and most influential people.
But Cooking Mama thinks I'm talented. Cooking Mama sees potential. Cooking Mama believes that I will nail that three-course meal one day. Thank you, Cooking Mama!
4 "You're A Wiz In The Kitchen!"
Do you know what wizards make? That's right, magic! So if someone tells you that you're a wiz at something, it means you are capable of something magical and unique.
When Cooking Mama calls me a Wiz in the kitchen, I imagine that scene from Matilda where the little telekinetic genius makes herself a bowl of Cheerios with her brain. Then she dances around the house while Little Bitty Pretty One plays on the stereo…Ugh, being a nineties kid was awesome.
3 "You're A Master Chef!"
I never considered myself a master chef. For instance, I tried to make buffalo chicken mozzarella sticks with my bestie a few years ago. We never deep-fried anything before, and we completely whiffed it. Unfortunately, our mozzarella sticks came out looking like black pieces of poo. I mean it. You could have left one in the toilet, and someone would exclaim, "Okay, who didn't flush!?"
To go from that deep-fried fiasco to being deemed a "Master Chef" from the home-cooking master is a significant badge of honor. Okay, maybe all I did was tap a screen a few times, but I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
2 "It's Okay, But There's Room For Improvement."
Listen. We all love getting smoke blown up our butts from time to time. Still, it takes genuine respect and trust for someone to give you honest, constructive criticism. I'll be frank, I've prepared Cooking Mama some doozies in the past, but she never lied and told me my zero-star dish tasted like gourmet cuisine.
Imagine if Cooking Mama let me continue my culinary journey churning out mediocrities left and right. I would rest on my undeserved laurels, and no restaurant would want to work with me. Luckily, Cooking Mama is not giving up on me! She knows I can do better and will give me the tools to do so!
1 "Wow! Even Better Than Mama!"
Whenever I get three stars on a task, I wait to hear this phrase with bated breath. First, the way Cooking Mama says "Wow" is delectable. I could listen to that sound on repeat for hours. Second, to be told that you've surpassed the master is a massive accomplishment.
When a parent says you've surpassed them, a necessary step in the circle of life occurs. Suddenly, the two of you become not quite peers but something new. Of course, Cooking Mama will always be your Mama, and you will always be her Cooking Son. Still, she recognizes that you're a competent adult. And if I can't get that from my real-life parents, I'll take it from Cooking Mama.
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