I’ve never been one for cooking. I’ve never particularly enjoyed it and I’ve never learned to do it well. I used to blame myself for this dilemma. I’d beat myself up about it, calling myself a lazy cook, but after much soul- searching I realized that the person to blame for this condition was my very own mother. Yes, mom, I love you and even though you’re no longer with us and unable to defend yourself, you know in your heart that my lack of culinary interest falls directly on your shoulders.
Mom was never a great cook. She knew the basics in order to keep her family from starving, but she never spent a lot of time on meals. There were always a million other things that needed her attention and cooking an elaborate meal was never high on her agenda.
Mom’s“specialty” was throwing some macaroni and hamburger together, gluing it together with tomato paste and then calling it a chop-suey. She’d then toss some bread and butter on the table, fill a few mugs with water and that was our evening meal. If we expected a fluffy, frothy, calorie-laden dessert, she’d look at us like we were nuts and ask us what planet we were from.
Needless to say, she never spent a lot of time teaching her children to master any kitchen skills. When we moved out or married we were on our own. If we wanted to learn to cook we did it through our own mistakes. I tried cooking…somewhat…during my first marriage, but I often relied on my mother’s “specialties.” I made a lot of chop-suey although I did upgrade to mixing in onions with my tomato sauce as well as warming up ready- made garlic bread instead of white sandwich bread. From time to time I’d even make a dessert.
These days though I’m finding myself drawn to cook books; especially the ones with intricate instructions and fancy garnishes. Half of the ingredients that are required for the recipes, I’ve never even heard of, but I still can’t stop myself from imagining serving something exquisite to my family and then having them ohhing and ahhing at the delicious-ness of my handiwork.
But, I know that if I’m going to start doing some decent cooking at this stage in my life, I’m probably not going to begin with a five course, five-star meal. Instead I initiated myself into the world of cooking by purchasing a crock pot recipe book. My first attempt was a minestrone soup from scratch. I had to buy barley (something I’d never bought before) dice vegetables, drop in bouillon cubes and then let it simmer for an entire afternoon. I was worried about how it would turn out and was pleasantly surprised when my family actually said it was good. I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and my confidence soared.
All in all, I’ve discovered that I’m a closet foodie. I tell myself it was because I was deprived of gourmet cooking when I was a kid and now I’m trying to make up for it as an adult. If there’s not a thing as, “lack of good cooking abuse”,then I’m coining it as my own. My therapy is going to require extensive recipe scrutinizing, going to fancy restaurants in order to sample what good cooking tastes like, and then subjecting my family and friends to my own experimental cooking.
It’s going to take years to recover from my past ordeal, but it’s just something that has to be done for my own good health.