I love food, I love eating, but I hate cooking.
Especially for other people. I never invite guests over for dinner, only ever takeaways.
I can’t cook.
At least, that’s how it used to be. Till about a week ago when I realised that I cook at least once a day. Every day. And will do for the foreseeable future. For decades. And I realised what I cook feeds my family, grows them and nourishes them, so it should be made with love and goodwill. Otherwise they are eating resentment and poorly thought out, neglected food. Imagine eating something served up to you every day with a side of bitterness.
I never learnt to cook. I did a couple of terms Home Economics in Intermediate school and that is the extent of my culinary training. When I moved out of home I bought an Edmonds cook book. My now husband and I would eat pre-packaged food – like creamy alfredo tortellini, or smoked chicken pasta, washed down with a large helping of red wine. We were fat, but happy. Then the budgets tightened. You can’t feed a family of five on that sort of food, and nor should you. I swapped pasta sauces for tinned diced tomatoes, bought a kg of mince, bag of sausages and tray of the cheapest chicken available at the time.
My husband ate it. The kids sort of ate it. I tried fancier foods from recipes that took half a day in the kitchen (take that, feminism) but it didn’t change the reception. If anything it had an inverse effect. The longer it took to make, the more the kids would hate it.
My youngest (daily): “Oh, MUM, not DINNER! Why are you cooking dinner? I HATE dinner!”
I read an article this morning in the Sunday Star Times about a chef, who… chefs. Skimming over the first couple of paragraphs I skipped to the end, and found one of those helpful boxes that summarise the article. “Yotam says” it’s titled. I prepared to be pulled in, awakened and enticed into a place of foodie revelation and interest.
YOTAM SAYS (Here we go..)
Five fridge or pantry essentials:
1. Tahini (sesame paste, it goes into hummus, okay)
2. Pomegranate Molasses. Pomegranate (a fruit, I’ve seen it in fancy antioxidant juices) molasses (the bitter liquoricey stuff my Nana used to have in her pantry) but together? Dunno.
3. Miso (like the soup? Which bit of the soup is the miso?)
4. Tamarind (?)
5. Preserved lemons (is that like where you use half a lemon, put the rest in the fridge and forget about it for months so it goes hard and wrinkly? Couldn’t say)
I’m scoring a 0/5 on this one of things I a) have, and b) could use in a meal. Further down the column:
Cooking tip for amateurs – have a griddle. A what now? A griddle. Do what with it? He says heat it (whatever it is) up really hot. I don’t know. Amateur.
I’m clearly failing at the first Foodie hurdle but – it’s my future, so I’m going to learn to like it, probably learn to cook. (Where do you go to learn the basics? I know we don’t want to pigeonhole another generation or limit a person’s potential based on their gender, but practicality dictates – I need a 1950s Housewife Throwback School)
I’m refreshing my attitude, re appropriated some of the scarce household finances back into food, and have ordered My Food Bag until such time as I can do it on my own.