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Tales of a Washed Up Kitchen Top

I am going through a crisis about cooking. I wish i weren't a cook, wish i hadn't spent so much of my twenties and thirties learning arcane aspects of food preparation. Mostly, i wish i didn't care so much about my relationship to food and other people's relationship to my food. There's so much baggage and stress attached to food, everyone brings it in, and everyone's an expert. I realize, somewhat sadly, that i have not spent 20 years developing a gift that i can offer to others in a mutually satisfying exchange of caring and nourishment. I have spent 20 years finely honing a neurosis to the point where i am absolutely intolerable in the kitchen. or in the dining room. and sometimes at restaurants. I eat 95% of all my meals alone, sometimes after hours of putting together some healthy and oh-so-creative spread of foods. I've had several roommates in recent years who categorically would not touch any food i made. I have been known to bring successfully prepared cheesecakes to parties and watched large groups of people avoid them in favor of walmart cakes, because they knew i was the one that made it. clearly, there is a lesson people are trying to teach me, and it's not as though i haven't spent years trying to pay attention.

It's not as though i don't try to tame my inner kitchen top. I appreciate what others make in the kitchen, i'm careful about my language when folks work in the kitchen with me, i have completed various rounds of soul searching in terms of how much of my vision needs to remain intact when preparing a meal. When i inadvertently say something that gets construed as judgemental i usually notice my error and put effort into damage control. I'm still a kitchen top, i still am particular and like to (sometimes) be able to follow through with a complete vision of a meal. And that fact seems to outweigh whatever it is i have to offer. There is some elusive social skill i can't quite seem to bring into balance with the rest of what it is i create.

Amateur culture is another consideration. Cooking is one of those areas that belongs to amateurs. Everyone needs to be applauded in the kitchen, everyone needs a turn, everyone has an opinion. Is it a woman's work thing? or just because it's such a universal everyday need? It's not all bad, i love democracy, and i love the idea of equalized labor, and everyone getting their hands dirty. I've got no formal food training; there are lots of people who produce much more consistently delicious and/or nuanced delicacies than I. I'm not suggesting that all kitchens be run by trained experts; i just wish i could find some balance where my love of feeding people could be realized and maybe some of the bossiness that has come from the process of becoming who i am in the world in which i live weren't such a deal breaker for people.

Conversely, sometimes i wish i knew a few modest and effective recipes and was content to enjoy other people's food or to indulge in regular takeout or trader Joe's pre-prepared entrees, or premix salads garnished with canned chick peas and some decent bottled dressing. In this day and age one does not need to know how to make mayonnaise and saurkraut from scratch in order to eat reasonably well and healthy without spending too much money. One does not need to make dried beans in a pressure cooker every week, or to know how to make decaffeinated tea out of loose leaf regular black tea. But that's the skill set i seem to be stuck with.

Perhaps it's one of those forty year old crises. I stand on the rainy fall street letting the wind carry away any illusions of the importance of anything i ever learned in my youth. Without a husband and children to be an overbearing matron to, i will never have anyone to force my uptightly packaged kitchen skills on.

I suspect i'm being dramatic, and it will be fine. I made some pumpkin pie out of an abundance of leftover butternut squash my roommate left in the fridge. Perhaps my roomate will appreciate the effort enough to eat some, if not, i will actually not get tired of eating pumpkin pie. This roommate does NOT categorically refuse to eat my food, although i'm realizing maybe if this situation is going to work i'm just going to have to learn to stop being a kitchen top. Or at least to stop caring.

Thank god i have enough money to pay a therapist. sheesh. Takeout would've been cheaper.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2012 01:28 am (UTC)
Maybe you just need to find your inner kitchen service top? Or find the right kitchen bottom(s)? I don't know. These things are tricky. I sometimes wish I had more energy and patience to tackle more difficult projects (I could totally do a decent pie crust if I weren't too lazy to practice). I'm pretty good at modest and effective, though am having to learn some new things to accommodate partners who eat differently.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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