I don’t like to cook. There. I’ve admitted it. I’ve come out of the pantry. I don’t like to cook. It’s beyond the “I hate preparing dinner for my family every night” stuff. After years of Gourmet and Bon Apetit floating in front of me and purchases of all sorts of kitchen things, working at a kitchen store, being part of the “foodie” generation, and dreams of entertaining and feeding my friends fabulous meals, I’ve finally admitted to myself that I cook like shit and I really don’t enjoy the process. I don’t like to cook. It’s such a relief to admit this.
Still I read cookbooks and food blogs. Something is compelling me to read this stuff. Well, that something is the prospect of eating. You know, what I really just want to do is hang out with my pals and eat, for god’s sake. It’s tough to admit this because it is very cool, fashionable and fun to cook. And lord knows I want to be cool, fashionable and fun.
I come from a family that really likes food. We get a couple of cookbooks every Christmas and part of any given conversation is about food. Everyone likes to cook. In college my younger brother was making handmade won ton soup for his drunken buddies while I was in my dorm room, hunched over like some wild-eyed cavewoman eating Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese out of an illegal hotpot with a spork. I got sisters who whip up loaves of bread because they had and extra 15 minutes in the morning and who successfully make real, gourmet meals on weeknights. WTF?
My very own husband loves having people over for dinner. He is a really good cook and enjoys making the list and prepping the food, getting the presentation just right. He likes nothing more than the sight of a large cut of raw meat, just waiting to be massaged and finessed for culinary purposes. It’s endearing, really. (And yes, I know exactly how that meat sentence reads.)
I am not like these people. The signs were there all right, but I chose to ignore them. The awful menus, badly cooked meals, and the dearth of joy while preparing food. And it’s not that I’m lazy or cheap. I would love to have the wherewithal to whip up a kick-ass meal. God knows I have tried. I want that warm and wonderful scene, but I just fail to produce it.
One of my dearest friends openly admits that she doesn’t have a keen interest in food. Sure, she likes to eat, but she isn’t all that interested in cooking. Well, I’d think (not a little patronizingly), maybe some day she will learn about the magic and fun of cooking. Here, I’ll show her how great it can be by burning the crap out an entrée and serving it to her.
Friends have pulled me off of prep duty because I am so ungodly slow with a knife. I have savaged vegetables so badly at the stove that people couldn’t identify them. The shopping is sometimes fun, but the fun is dampened by the anticipation of cooking. You simply can’t depend on me to keep my head in the harried, cluttered moments of the kitchen and remember to do things like turn on the oven. And all those orderly steps? Come on. I read and re-read one sentence in a recipe over and over, to no avail. Meh.
Look, here are the kitchen and food-related things that I’m good at:
- Leaning on my elbow and talking engagingly/drunkenly with a glass of wine in my hand while you chop the shit out of some shallots.
- Running to the store to get those 5 scallions you forgot.
- Taste testing (well, duh).
- Figuring out that one flavor in the potatoes and then talking in an asinine fashion about similar potatoes I had in France.
- Eating large amounts of what you’ve made so that you feel your meal was appreciated.
- Bringing the cups and napkins or ice cream.
I still love to eat and talk about the food I’m eating. I want to know that this is a triple reduction broth you’re serving me – I like to think about all the careful planning, the fabulous orchestration and hard work you’ve put into it. It is so very appreciated. I just don’t want to do it myself, that’s all. And, really, is that so wrong?
With my newfound identity of non-cook I entreat you to not shun me or behave differently toward me. I’m still the same person you knew before you started reading this, just a lot less cook-ish. I will gladly invite you over for a meal, but understand that you will be coming over for the conversation. Please, I ask you to just accept me for the eater I am.