Do you KNOW how many seasons of Masterchef Australia (and New Zealand), Jamie Oliver, Ready Steady Cook and Chef’s Table I’ve watched in my life?
Let me give you a hint: it’s a serious lot.
I fucking love cooking shows. And seeing people create awesome food. And reading up on cooking techniques, and recipes and and and. I adore cooking as a skill, art and means of connecting. I do. I DO.
Yet I still find myself admitting (in pretty much every talk with every new potential) that I CAN’T cook.
What’s up with that?
The easy answer is obvious: I can’t cook. Which is technically untrue, I suppose, but still very fitting to my situation I think. Because when all is said and done, you won’t find me in a kitchen out of my own volition.
I’ll cook to prevent myself from starving. I’ll cook to soothe my omnomnom cravings. I’ll cook if it’s societally expected or when my friends force me to (which is actually a lot more than you might expect). But when you ask me, honestly, if I can cook? I’ll say no.
There’s a difference to being able to prepare a meal, and actual cooking if you ask me. A world of difference, even. I can throw together ingredients to prepare something that’s easily edible (especially when provided with a recipe or instructions). But actually balancing tastes? Finding out the qualities in foods and bringing them forward? Combining elements into a food explosion and creating something that is more than the sum of its elements? No can do.
Plus – my fear of failing is INSANE when it comes to being in the kitchen.
There is NO part of me that enjoys cooking for people because they will be TASTING the results and judging me for them. And we live in a society where household skills are a huge contributor to female attractiveness still, regardless of all the career additions. The pressure is too much for me. I full on panic at the thought of having to. The thought of maybe fucking up. The thought of not being good enough (and that extends from cooking to the being a good hostess, as well).
I have deep trauma’s from the one time I made a spinach-and-salmon cream pasta and there were still grains of sand in there from the ‘washed’ spinach. I still cry about the one time I went through a LOT of effort to make a great stew and the receiver took one bite and spat it out because there were peas in it. Their number one hated item. I still stress about the time I hosted a dinnerparty for 6 others and the 12 different dishes (that I only slightly helped in preparing) needed to be served out at the same time. And god, don’t remind me of the barbecue I hosted last summer, only to realize I didn’t have enough forks in the house for all the guests so people were forced to eat DELICIOUS steaks with fucking spoons (no joke).
Add to that the fact that I have 0 patience – and all I am is a recipe for disaster.
The fact that I take no pleasure in cooking generally means that I cook to be out of the kitchen fastest. There’s no such thing as ‘simmer the pot’ in my vocabulary. Everything is done with the fire cranked up to the highest flameyness and burnt to a crisp within moments. Doughs that take hours to rise? Stews that take a day to pull in flavors? Dishes that go in the oven for hours on end and need to be constantly turned and basted? NOPE.
Plates that need delicacy to be plated? Hells no. I’m a prison cook. You’ll just get big spoonfulls of goop in my casa. If you’re lucky. I prefer digital cooking (yaknow, ordering in via the various apps, hahaha!) while watching actual proficients do it on tv.
But my fears are ever increasing…
What if the fact that I can’t cook is what’s stopping me from hooking that prince Charming?
What if I end up going to jail for mass-food-poisoning murder, wiping out an entire friendgroup?
What if people start using me as a cautionary tale for the degradation of women in this generation?
Maybe it’s time for a cooking class.