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Cooking is Not What Its Cooked Up to be.

Recently someone asked me if I cook. My eyebrows contracted, my eyes narrowed, my mouth lost its already receding lip line as I sucked in a breath, and my head involuntarily began a left to right rotation of denial.

It was an instantaneous reaction, reflecting a bit of embarrassment, dislike, guilt, pride, and relief.

I spent the first 30 years of my life satisfied to heat hotdogs, open a can of pineapples, heap a glob of cottage cheese on top of it, and call it lunch. I might repeat the menu for dinner, or eat a baloney and cheese sandwich. 

Obviously, I was not a foodie.

Then I married a man with 4 teenagers and I learned quickly how to cook Hamburger Helpers, spaghetti, chili, stews, chicken soup, and even put together a holiday feast of turkey and dressing, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casseroles, and even pumpkin pies. 

When that marriage ended I had an awakening that working in the kitchen was not at the top of my favorite hobby list. I found little pleasure in concocting delectable courses for consumption. In fact, my creativity had not a single wattage of light illuminating its existence when I walked into a kitchen. The inspiration room was dark and I couldn’t find the light switch.

So, I decided, as I left that union, to give up cooking, saving myself and anyone who might venture to my house for a meal from uninspired and ill-prepared vitals.

I was happy not to think about what to have for dinner or finding a recipe, or making sure I had the correct ingredients on hand, avoiding an emergency run to the grocery store for a spice previously unknown to me.

Life was easy, relief was instantaneous, and I was happy to just open the peanut butter jar and smear some on a piece of bread and call it dinner.

If I didn’t have bread or peanut butter, a trip to the Dairy Queen for a hamburger would suffice.  I was a happy camper, perhaps not well fed, but certainly unburdened with having to give cooking much thought.

When Jack and I met my first statement was ‘I don’t cook’. His look at this news was filled with ‘So, who cares?’

This elicited an immediate sigh of relief, indicating our relationship could move forward. 

For the next 20 years he did all the planning, grocery buying, creating, and preparing of meals and I loved it. I could focus on filling the dishwasher with a multitude of dirty pots and pans, dishes, and utensils, requiring only a tad bit of ingenuity on how to get everything into the dishwasher for one cycle.

In the 17 years since Jack died, my cooking skills have remained uncultivated.

I have learned how to buy frozen corn on the cob, good bananas, cantaloupes, packages of carrots, apples, and precooked meals. 

Here in Mexico, food can be purchased cheaply, but expertly prepared from a mobile cart or a fine restaurant, and they even deliver.

Could life be any better? 

For a non-foodie, I think not. 

8 thoughts on “Cooking is Not What Its Cooked Up to be.

  1. My attitude about cooking is fickle – some days I like it, some days I avoid it. I spent my first many years cooking mostly easy dishes, with some short-lived ventures into more exotic foods. A few years ago I went plant-based, and noted a marked difference in how I felt, so I became a fan. But living alone made it easy – I only needed to prepare a dish two or three times a week, and then I could eat leftovers in between. Now that I’m with my daugher and her husband, it doesn’t work that well, and – well, husband prefers what I view as odd foods (you know, Yak, Buffalo, etc.) and cooks for himself. Daughter likes her meats. I feel a need to get back to plant-based, so it seems we might soon be all cooking for our individual wants.

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    1. My husband’s children take after him and both love cooking, trying new things, new tastes, new dishes. When I visit them, I am delighted to try anything they prepare and appreciate the energy and time they put into providing a meal. When its time for my contribution, we eat out.

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  2. Thank you for your moving story on cooking and a lot more included in this post. I like the simplicity too and making fine dishes of food for guests even my own adult children stresses me a lot

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  3. I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. Sometimes I enjoy it, those are usually the times I’m trying something new and have lots of time. But the day to day cooking, the responsibility of feeding myself and especially someone else – that really irks me and is the ban of my marriage. 30 years of cooking dinner every single night (especially during the covid thing). It’s such a menial job. Husband has no clue how annoying it is to try to figure out what to feed him every day, and you’re right, the planning and the grocery shopping just make it even worse. If it were me I’d open a yogurt, or make a sandwich. Or do as I did when I was single, make one big pot of something on Sunday and eat that all week until I ran out and then eat sandwiches and yogurt till Sunday rolls around again. Sigh. It’s the worst thing about being married…cooking.

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