What? Happiness? Love? Fulfilment?
None of the above. I was always in pursuit of someone to help me either learn how to cook or cook for me. I love food.
It was this that had me offering, volunteering most weekends, to assist with the usual weekend things – BBQ’s, food gatherings, parties, all that sort of stuff.
I can’t cook. Ask any of the kids who lived with me as a foster. You want to know why they all learned to cook (almost all the teenaged fosters were placed in my care for the ‘independent living skills’ component of some government rule thing before they were allowed to undertake employment as a ‘real’ person) because if they had to live on what I cooked, they often preferred to eat tinned dog food. Not that they actually did eat it, but it would have tasted better, had better (what’s that word for how it all holds together – texture, right!), looked nicer, and caused less stomach problems.
That’s one way to get them to learn how to cook, right?
There’s a better way – have them in the kitchen of someone who enjoys what they’re doing, likes learning about it, and isn’t so desperate and impatient that some things are overcooked, some are half-cooked and some are completely unrecognisable. Seriously.
So, why can’t I cook? My excuse: my mother was/is a terrible cook. Her sisters were good cooks; her mother (nan) was a great cook (I learned my gardening from nan). What happened? I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I go into the kitchen, even the dog leaves the house (and that’s a very sad indictment, isn’t it?) and people have learned to stay away if I even mention I’ll be doing kitchen or cooking stuff.
They don’t say anything, but all of a sudden, they’re busy with this, that or the other. If there’s someone who doesn’t know, they rescue them with words like ‘Oh, named one, you said you’d be doing something with me that day, and the next day.’
I know the words, I know the signs (you know that look, with the eyes scrunched just the tiniest bit, the head shakes a miniscule ‘no’, the white-wall eyes scream warning.
Do I take offence? No, not at all. De facts is de facts. I can’t cook. I can eat, though, so if these people know my lack of culinary skills, why do they get offended when I ask if they can cook?
They do, you know? Do they think I’m going to suck the knowledge out of their heads and steal it away so it won’t be theirs anymore? Of course not! Why don’t they invite me to the afternoon foodie things anymore? What did I do?
Do you think it might have to do with the desperate looks, the drool when they talk about the things they have planned? The belly rub at the mere mention of a BBQ?
I could put the effort into learning how to cook, and there have been times I tried that – didn’t take. Some people learn things, even if they don’t have a passion for that thing, but the food thing slipped right by me.
The kids learned, and we ate well while they lived-in, but they’re gone, I’m still here, still dreaming (yes, very vivid dreams, smell and all) of all that wonderful, delicious, wafting essences of life and . . . oh, stop! Please. So cruel to the dying palate . . .
Once, a long time ago, I even considered the idea of finding a man who could cook, and marrying him. I met the cook, shared the house – and watched him create absolute chaos in the kitchen; every dish dirty and damaged; every lid, utensil, tool, knife – everything used and left in an ugly pile of detritus that covered the whole room – for the next person to clean up. Cooks don’t clean up after themselves, apparently.
I like my things to have a certain order, a structure, to be able to find the same thing in the same place each and every time I look for it. I like my pattern to be (loosely) woven on consistency and flow and ease.
The cook got booted. The kitchen returned to neat and tidy.
I turned to the raw-food vegan lifestyle (the fosters didn’t) because if I can’t cook, then maybe I should enjoy the stuff that doesn’t require cooking.
But cooking isn’t all about the application of heat, is it? I also couldn’t put together a good meal with the raw life – it takes as much effort and thought and purpose to create a good raw-food vegan meal as it does a non-raw non-vegan meal.
Woe is me – because I don’t think much of take-away, either (eyukkk! to most of them), and it’s also well beyond the current budget.
So, what do I do?
I focus on the few things I can do to some level of satisfaction. These get done regularly, and most of the time, I eat the raw food that comes from my garden – it will have to do, because no one is going to volunteer to be my cook, are they? Are you?