An international poll of 27,000 people from 22 different countries uncovered some surprising facts about time spent in the kitchen. Here are the number of hours per week that people spent on cooking:
1. India ( 13.2) 1. South Korea (3.7)
2. Ukraine ( 13.1) 2. Turkey (4.9)
3. South Africa (9.5) 3. Brazil ( 5.2)
4. Indonesia ( 8.3) 4. Germany ( 5.4)
5. Italy ( 7.1) 5. France (5.5)
6. Spain (6.8) 6.China, Mexico, US(5.8)
In general, I would expect people in affluent countries to spend less time in the kitchen both because of the availability of ready-to-eat foods and because they eat out more often. On the other hand, people in the poorer countries spend more time cooking because they work with primary ingredients and do not eat out as much. It is no surprise therefore to find that Indians spend the most time cooking. Preparing Indian food is labor intensive and time-consuming; all that chopping, grinding and simmering takes time. But Ukraine being almost tied with India is a surprise.
At the other end of the spectrum, South Koreans spending the least time is only to be expected because many of their foods are either grilled and quickly prepared, or pickled ( kimchi, anyone) or quickly stir fried. Besides, South Korea has a robust street food scene and plenty of ready made foods. The surprise is that the French spend so little time cooking ; it is very unexpected considering the reputation that French cuisine enjoys worldwide. France’s low ranking on the list below is also a surprise.
Percentage of people who say they love food ( by country)
Most: Italy (43) Least: Poland, Russia, Sweden, South Korea, Belgium (13)
South Africa ( 42) France ( 24)
Indonesia, Mexico( 40)
India ( 39)
Brazil ( 38)
U.S.A ( 37)
So… what is one to take away from all these statistics? For one thing, kitchen time in all the countries is lower than I would have thought and amounts to less than two hours per day ( India) , and often less than one hour per day. This is quite different from a generation ago and is an indication of the range of labor saving devices and the semi-prepared and processed foods available today. Secondly, I find myself questioning the validity of these numbers. There is such a wide variety of people, particularly in the larger countries, that an average is meaningless or , at least, seriously flawed. A difference of even half an hour per week , or of 2% or even 5% of respondents, doesn’t mean a thing.