As you have probably guessed, I’m a pretty good cook. Cooking is something that I’ve kind of always done. My first ever almost solo cooking effort was when I was seven years old and my mother vaguely supervised me making spaghetti with a chicken and tomato sauce, one of her weekly staple dinners, that I had helped her make many times before. This time was different. This time it was up to me. I remembered all the steps and cooked intuitively to produce a meal that was not only edible, it was pretty nice too. I think it was that moment that I was hooked on cooking. Every single meal after that (for a long time) was an attempt to do it better.
I’m pretty sure that I ‘sealed the deal’ with my now husband because of my cooking. I think we had been dating for around 3 or 4 months when one night I invited him over for a home-cooked meal. I’m not sure why I hadn’t cooked for him sooner – I guess when you first start seeing someone you’re never quite sure what’s ‘appropriate’, what’s too ‘serious’. For me, cooking him a meal was the ultimate declaration of my love for him. It was time.
I think I cooked something really unusual – Turkey and Peanut Butter Curry from my Ainsley Harriot cookbook. Sounds disgusting now but I’m pretty sure it was delicious at the time. Whilst dinner was good, I’m pretty sure it was the Passionfruit Soufflé that did it. Warm, tangy, airy and etherial, to him it was seemingly impossible for the home cook to make, but I did it. I think he must have imagined a lifetime of soufflé’s and fine dining. Though that didn’t exactly eventuate, I think he’s had it pretty good these last 7 years.
On the other hand, my husband doesn’t cook at all. He makes a mean cappuccino and toast, but that’s about it. Perhaps I am an enabler of his non-cooking by just doing myself all the time, but I think that mainly it was because he never cooked as a child. He’s a real lover of food and one of the best things about him is that he will eat pretty much anything and doesn’t have any strong dislikes. It makes cooking for him very easy. However being a lover of good food doesn’t automatically translate to a desire to cook.
I think I’ve attempted to teach him to make spaghetti bolognese at least 5 times over the years. Unless you have an interest and keep practicing, it just won’t happen, which is the case with him. I watch him in the rare times he’s been in the kitchen, he seems lost and out of his depth. He doesn’t know where anything is nor how anything works. For me it’s so strange because I don’t think there is a place that I feel more comfortable and more in control than the kitchen. But I mustn’t forget, that it was a slow and gradual process, starting form my preschool years, helping my mother to cook dinner and bake cakes that got me to this point.
Sometimes I question what that point of putting so much effort into meals is. It would probably be a hell of a lot easier being someone like my husband who doesn’t cook. There are plenty of ready meals in the supermarket, plenty of products to make food preparation a case of open the jar, add meat and heat. We also spoilt for choice with restaurants at every price point. Essentially food is fuel. It keeps our bodies functioning. So why go to so much effort to get something delicious to eat when it all ends up…well…in the toilet?
Well I think there are some pretty obvious answers to these questions. Firstly, we’re often concerned about health. Knowing exactly what goes into a meal is the cornerstone of healthy eating. Then there is the sense of achievement you get from creating something from scratch. You could equate it to having any specialised skill such as building a deck or laying a brick wall. Then there is the pleasure that is derived from eating something absolutely moorish. Some people seek sex, other people thrills and a lot of us seek food to give us that high, to release that serotonin and get seriously happy.
OK Kristy, stop rambling, what is the point of all this? What are you trying to say?
Sometimes I feel it’s such a curse, such a burden to love food so much. Sure I cook because I want to know what goes into my food, I want to ensure that Luka, Sophia and Sebastian eat their broccoli and peas and avoid all those nasty E – numbers and preservatives, but why do I bake bread and pile on as much artery clogging butter as I can to one slice, even sprinkling a little extra blood-pressure raising salt on top? Why can’t I stop at one slice, why do I go for another?
Why do I open a bag of these delicious corn chips, pour myself a small bowl, but keep coming back for bowl after bowl?
Why do I scoff chocolate easter egg after chocolate easter egg when I’m not even hungry?
Why do I fill my plate with so much food that I’ll surely burst if I eat another mouthful, yet somehow I manage to sneak in another?
Why have I gone on diet after diet, succeeded then failed again?
Why do I keep doing this to myself?