I don’t cook. At my age, I am confident that this fact will not change in my lifetime.
I have never cooked. I grew up in the 50’s — a decade that I now know spawned dissatisfaction in many women about being “just a housewife”. My mother often told me that she wished she had become a lawyer. Cleaning and cooking were chores. So was taking care of three kids.
In a nutshell, she would never have won an award as the June Cleaver of Vittmer Avenue. (Remember June Cleaver, Beaver’s mother? If so, you’re definitely a Boomer!)
Mom would kick us out of the kitchen when she began making dinner so that we didn’t bother her. She was a terrible cook. Overdone pork chops, “succotash” from a can and mashed potatoes with watery gravy were a typical once a week staple. She also made meatloaf (bland) and fried chicken (deep fryer-fried). Her tomato noodle soup with marrow bone dumplings was a specialty – not bad, but not something she made often since it required more time in the kitchen than she wanted to spend. She also made pizza on Friday nights (that was when Catholics couldn’t eat meat on Friday, remember?) In the 50’s, pizza meant Chef Boyardee “box” pizza with the dough, sauce and parmesan cheese included. It was not a favorite of us kids … but it was much better than the pork chops. We looked forward to Friday.
Needless to say, I had no interest in learning to do something mom disliked so much.
When I got married at 22, I thought I’d give cooking a whirl. I remember asking my mom for her recipes (that’s how much I knew!) and trying out the pork chops, meatloaf and noodle soup. Fortunately, my husband was a traveling salesman so he didn’t have to endure my feeble attempts at domesticity very often. We ate out a lot. But he did have to try the cake I made for his birthday. A total disaster – it looked terrible and tasted worse. Baking didn’t seem to be my forte either.
I pretty much gave up … on cooking and the marriage… at age 23.
Fortunately, the next man in my life actually liked to cook. At least, I think he did. It might have been a reaction to one or two of my pitiful attempts to feed us. I tried to do my share, however. I set the table, washed the dishes and provided encouragement. We also ate out a lot.
When Ray and I got together 25 years ago, neither of us had cooking skills. We were in love … and hungry. Again, I got lucky. He had always wanted to try his hand at cooking and over the years has become a true gourmet chef. Thank god!
As “uncool” as it was to cook in the 50’s, these days it seems to be all the rage. Lots of people – both women and men – want to become chefs, cook exotic dishes, have elaborate dinner parties, open restaurants and watch cooking shows.
Did you know that there is a Cooking Channel TV station? I didn’t until recently. Incredibly, there are close to 200 different programs – most of them multiple episodes or ongoing series – available both on TV and online streaming. Today, Wednesday, February 12th, there are 38 different cooking shows available between 7:00am and 3:00am!
Believe it or not, in addition to Rachael Ray, Emeril and others that I have heard of over the years, there are shows called Extra Virgin (“An actress and her Italian husband share their passion for Tuscan food and each other”), Donut Showdown (“Each episode sees three of the best donut makers from across North America test their creativity in our diner kitchen”), Food Truck Face-Off (“Pits two teams against one another to win the ultimate prize – a customized food truck for one year”) and The Worst Cooks in America (“Six hopeless home cooks are chosen to work with 2 premier chefs who try to transform them in 10 days — one of them will win $25,000”).
Actually, I thought about applying for The Worst Cooks in America but I’m afraid of the remote possibility of being transformed into a chef. If Ray turns over his spatula, I’d have to spend time in the kitchen instead of relaxed on the couch with my glass of wine.
I plan to leave well enough alone.