Food. Just that one word inspires so many thoughts, cravings, memories, and even, feelings! I’m obviously starving to death as I write this. But food has, like most of us, that sibling who comes around every so often and makes things complicated… cooking! I love to cook, you say. Good for you, man. I envy you, it’s true. But it’s also true that I envy the people, especially the moms who don’t have to cook. I mean, gosh, you rebels! It’s your role, they shout from the street, pitchforks in hand. What kind of woman and mother are you they say as they light the Molotov cocktail. (Mmm, a cocktail.) But I envy you. I mean, your humans are obviously getting fed if they’re still alive and functioning, so I say good job to you for figuring out a way to do that without being the sole progenitor of all things consumed! I don’t really want to cook much at all these days. Okay, well let’s back up for a minute before you start judging me so hard. I’ll tell you a quick story:
Once upon a time there was a little girl who just ate whatever was fed to her. She wasn’t very picky at all, she ate anything her mama made her, and anything from any restaurant that daddy took her to. She never had any real negative associations with food, except for maybe that one time she found a worm in her McDonald’s breakfast, or that one time her evil 1st grade teacher made her take her “wasted lunch” out of the trash. I’ll eat this shit over my dead body, her 6 year old heart whispered. So this girl, by the time she’s in 5th grade her parents are divorced, she’s doing the usual mom’s homemade dinner most nights, and the usual single dad’s dinner other times. Jr High comes, by this time the girl can cook a few simple things for herself, her specialty is homemade Mexican rice with two cans of tomato sauce (imagine the sodium intake!). Time passes, high school comes, said girl moves in with dad for a while. Dad works a lot, but the girl is never going hungry or anything. Typical after school fare consists of cans of pork n’ beans, macaroni, canned ravioli, delicacies like that, you get the picture. Dad mostly let’s her eat whatever she wants, no guilt attached, plus this girl is skinny as a rail, she doesn’t even think of weight or any of those earthly curses that seem to join us for dinner more often that they’re invited these days. The highlight of this all, is that for breakfast, just so she would eat (she still has picky breakfast issues), she was taken through the drive thru of Taco Bell every day for two crunchy tacos and a Dr Pepper. Every morning, for probably months on end. Talk about the breakfast of champs, man! No wonder she had acne right? But I mean, this is what she wanted. She doesn’t blame or judge her dad, I promise. A girl’s gotta eat, right? No way she was having cereal, or eggs more than once a week, or any of that peasant food. She can still taste the crunchy shell, with the savory meat filling, cheese and cool lettuce all washed down with a big swig of chilled corn syrup. (I might get that this weekend when I have the munchies, to be honest.) Anyway, this was typical for her. She does still remember going home to mom’s house and finding like real, gourmet, original, ethnic-inspired dishes from all over the world. When she chose to go home. The only thing she really passed on was lamb, but today she’d devour one, much to Mary’s dismay, to be sure. Then she has “the missing years” from her, uh, rebel phase, when God knows what she ate. So now, let’s fast forward to this girl, theoretically growing up. She learns to cook a little more, she’s just getting out of high school and can cook up some pretty good Mexican dishes, and a handful of techniques her mom taught her, which the most valuable was how to just throw some basic ingredients together to make a pretty good meal. She meets a boy, she starts cooking for him, he takes the bait, they do their version of getting married, live together and the cooking is still in its experimental phase, but it’s basically a partnership and some progress is being made. I mean no one dies, no one complains, but there’s no kid to cloud it up and they just cook, eat, take out, enjoying food as they see fit. They’re not together all the time, half the time she’s just on her own, feeding herself whatever. Who knows what she ate, really. Then later, a kid comes and this girl is now actually not only reading but seeking out recipes! I mean this is some serious stuff folks. She tries a new Kraft Kitchen inspired recipe at least twice a week (casserole anyone?), she watches the food channel every day, picks up magazines, even library books on cooking. There was only one actual total fail, when she tried to take down her mom’s chicken mole recipe over the phone and it was seriously inedible. Like a floury, pasty nastiness. She wasn’t embarrassed, it was just too gross to be embarrassed. So, girl is cooking up a storm, she’s enthused.. sitting down and creating/printing fancy sounding weekly menus with sophisticated font choices and words like haricot verts, aioli, and garlic-infused. She’s doing it! Fast forward 13 years later, and surprise, we’re talking about me. Now, 13 years later: so many people have cried over the food choices I make, the meals I stand around the kitchen for hours making. I mean they’re polite enough, no one really has overused the word “Gross”, I’ve egotistically given them appropriate substitute phrases like “I don’t feel like eating this today”. I mean, I can’t win though, are we surprised? Feeding 7 of us, at least 3 are what I would diagnose as “clinically picky” one of them being an adult who despite having a mother like mine who made lots of homemade food over his childhood, pretty much seemed to only eat white rice and chicken when we started dating. Plus chipotle and McDonald’s. I mean, I could go on and on about what these people have done to my culinary spirits. I used to just cook myself what I wanted and if they ate it they ate it, there was always something else around. And then it got to the point where I was feeding too many people too many different choices on one night. I can’t seem to get portions right. Some days I make enough to feed two families, and other days I’m scraping the bottom of the pan chasing that “I hate myself for eating so much feeling” some of us have grown accustomed to. Today, as it stands, I have to admit we eat out more than I think we should. Like I’m sure if my sweet aunts or mother-in-law or the pediatrician or Oprah knew, I would possibly disappoint them. I mean you do the math folks! 7 people, 3 meals, plus snacks… plus grocery trips, plus kitchen cleaning, plus the fact that half the people won’t eat what I make. I mean don’t get me wrong, I cook! Okay, I cook. And I have one baby who says mom you make the best everything, even when it’s just plain pasta and some fruit on the side. And I have two babies who will try anything I make and usually like it and they’re older so they’ll always remember mama really did cook for them! I sound desperate, I know. I just hate cooking right now. Plain truth. Once a day I can work with, other than that I have to hand it off to the girls or something. Yesterday I actually heard another lady say that her husband has just taken over the cooking! I’m like, whaaat? Woah. What’s a gal gotta do to make that happen? Be married to someone who can cook? Lovemaking on demand? Contribute to the family finances? At least two of those have no hope here. I mean, lesbehonest, I have to admit that I’ve thought more than once about getting a job just so I don’t have to be the only one responsible for cooking and making the food choices for so many people. Some people can’t even make the choice for themselves, or just two people. I’m drowning here.
I could go on and on, but I promised you a quick story. The biggest takeaway from all this is that I have outed myself, I have stopped the charade, myth busted what I’m sure some imagined to be my domestic near-perfection. What? You don’t think about me? Well if you did, it’s possible you’d think I was one of those people who still had the mental fortitude to enjoy something as simple and essential as cooking. Maybe it’s just a phase. Like I said, it’s been over 13 years of cooking for a family of various shapes and sizes. Maybe I’ll get my groove back, maybe they’ll join me in feeding each other. Maybe they’ll get a pantry full of pork n beans.
A little while ago I texted my husband a nice little text that read, “hungry”. To which he replied, “a little”. To which I replied, “Oh I’m sorry, it was more of a statement”.
He came home from work empty handed. I had dreams of taco truck breakfast burritos. I’m too lazy to get dressed to go, so I guess it’s some microwaveable veggie sausage and eggs for me. I’m not desperate enough for Taco Bell, yet.
What about you guys? It’s okay if you love cooking, or if you don’t have to cook, I won’t be mad at you. Jealous maybe but I won’t hate you. Maybe you have some words of wisdom. I’m always open to helpful tips, but if it’s about prepping food ahead of time you lost me there. Tried it, no one ate the defrosted freezer meals. Can’t say I blame them… but yeah. I’m so hungry right now.