Cooking my meals is one of the best parts of my day. I wouldn’t trade it for restaurant dishes or ready-made microwave treats.
I’ll let you in on a secret. My mother’s isn’t a good cook. Alas, she never was. When I was a kid, she used to plead with me to eat her chicken soup. She would beg me to. I would look from her palms brought together in supplication to the curious yellow lumps in my bowl, which could have been either dumplings or partially melted chicken fat, I’m still not sure, and I would panic.
Sometimes I would take a few spoonfuls, but I would always have to force myself to. It’s not that all her dishes were bad. She made the best brownie cake I ever tasted, and she was pretty good at French fries, too, the frozen variety especially. But usually something was amiss with her food — there was too much oil in the stew, or the chicken breast wasn’t fried enough, or the onions in the soup were rudely cut.
I guess my mother never got over cooking as a chore. She never got any fun out of it.
But I do. I look forward to my hour-long breaks in the kitchen. It’s one of my favorite activities in the day.
I began to cook when I stopped eating meat. This is very much a novelty in my carnivorous family. When you cook your own food, you know exactly what goes into it.
Doing it yourself can also change your eating habits for the better. It makes you far more attentive to what you eat. It also gives you full control over your ingredients — no more additives, no more preservatives, no more sugar, no more bad oils.
When you cook your food every day, you don’t always know what you’re going to eat. You just take what’s available and use it the healthiest and tastiest way you can think of.
While it’s true that you have to put in at least 15 to 20 extra minutes into preparing your meals, you can often save money, and that compensates. For most diets and menus, buying the ingredients yourself is cheaper than buying food ready made. To say nothing of restaurants.
There’s something artful and calming about chopping carrots or slicing mushrooms on a wooden board, about pouring tomato juice into your soup pot on the stove and stirring it, about adding seasonings to the careful cuttings in your frying pan.
Onions can be more tricky, but it seems that if you put the cutting board on the stove and turn on the vent, the stinging loses its sharpness.
Knives may bite your fingers now and then. But then your dexterity does seem to improve with time.
Things will certainly spill. But then extra cleaning burns up extra calories.
Cooking your food is a good excuse to get up from your desk and move a bit in the kitchen. It’s great for writers who sit a lot, and for anyone who works from home. It can also challenge your creativity and encourage you to discover interesting new dishes and ingredients. It doesn’t make you a chef or a gourmand, but it makes you food-conscious. And that’s one of the pillars of living a good life.
I don’t know what the future holds in store for me. I haven’t yet sorted out my health problems, but one thing’s clear — if I ever marry, she won’t have to worry about the cooking. She can read or write poetry or sing or play with the dog or do what she wants to do — I’ll take care of the carrots and the lentils, the olive oil and the salad, the mangos and the avocados.
Do you do any cooking? What dish do you most enjoy cooking?