Almost every cookbook I own has a whole chapter on "Getting Started." They all have long lists about the gadgets and doo-dads that the well-equipped kitchen should have. I once saw a list of all the things you need to survive on a 280-mile trip down the river in the Grand Canyon, and I swear to God it was shorter than the standard list things in a well stocked kitchen. I don't care what they tell you. You don't need a cherry pit remover or lemon zester to start cooking. You don't need copper, titanium, or galvanized plutonium pots. There's really only one thing you need to cook: a good knife.
Go out and spend $75--$100 and get yourself a quality chef's knife. I got mine from Cutco. Cutco sells door-to-door and has a brilliant marketing strategy: they peddle their cutlery by sending smart, handsome college guys into the homes of middle-aged women. I mean, come on--in walks this tall doe-eyed man-child who is probably just trying to earn enough money to buy books for his 19th century English poetry class. In between cutting demonstrations (where, I might add, you watch his young muscles pulsate in his forearms) he's commenting about world peace and the girlfriend that just broke his heart. I wound up buying the whole $800 set. But they are good knives. Really. And I promise this isn't some cheap plug for Cutco--there are lots of good knives out there. Go get one.
If you can't afford a good knife, and/or are afraid with an evening with a Cutco God might harm your marriage, then buy a cheap knife, but get a good whetstone, which is simply a piece of granite upon which you sharpen a knife. Get it really sharp--razor like. This takes more time with a cheap knife, but it can be done. You just draw the blade across the whetstone repeatedly until you are holding an instrument that would make Hannibal Lecter wince. Cooking means cutting, so however you do it, get yourself a sharp knife. And a couple of band-aids.