Confession: I can’t cook.
My experiences with the kitchen are as follows:
- Beyond macaroni and cheese and Ramen noodles, my ability to create anything edible is negligible.
- One time, I tried making pancakes. I got the dry ingredients everywhere and accidentally left bits of egg shell in the batter. Also, I tried heating up syrup in the microwave but forgot to open the top of the bottle and it exploded. There was syrup everywhere. The microwave smelled like syrup for quite some time. (Which I argue is not actually a bad thing.)
- Another time I tried making flan. It burned.
- If I can’t find a measuring device, I can’t follow through with the recipe. The idea of going rogue in the kitchen is disquieting.
- I have come to accept leftovers as a necessary part of life, but I have no clue how to combine them creatively into anything savory.
- Speaking of savory, I constantly crave salt…but only ever feel like baking cookies. I’m sure this contradiction is a large part of the reason I haven’t seen much success in the kitchen.
- I’m not very creative when it comes to making my own food. Whenever I brainstorm ideas for dinner, the list goes as follows:
- (dead void where creative brainwaves should be thinking of option 4)
So really, I don’t understand the kitchen. I’m not “domesticated” in that sense and I think my mom considers it somewhat of a maternal failure on her part. Yet there remains hope – while I can’t cook for anything, I have a deep and undeniable appreciation for the culinary arts.
I love food.
I’m a particular fan of Mexican. A few days ago Kat, Anna, Joe and I had quesadillas for dinner, and a comment was made that went something along the lines of “Anything Mexican is fine by me.” This might have been in response to Anna’s love of refried beans, but regardless, the sentiment is there and completely true. My parents raised my brother and I on TexMex and if it has ground beef, cheese, peppers and or/jalapeños, tortillas, and taco seasoning, my tummy is 100% guaranteed to smile.
While abroad in the Middle East, my stomach unfortunately didn’t do much smiling – 24/7 travelers’ sickness will do that to you, word to the wise – but that didn’t stop my experimentation with food. Let me tell you a secret: Middle Eastern food is positively divine. And it was never in short supply, as the people we met on our travels showed their hospitality through feeding us borderline inappropriate amounts of food. Pushing larger and larger amounts of potatoes and vegetables onto my side of the communal plate was a favorite game of my Moroccan host grandma. This tendency was universal to nearly every Middle Easterner who sheltered any of us poor unassuming American students, and as a result my fellow TIMErs and I quickly perfected an eating style fondly known as the Moroccan Hunch. This slightly embarrassing tactic involves leaning over your plate in a Neanderthal- like squat and shoveling extreme amounts of food into your mouth. It is often coupled with a hopping motion if you want or need to quickly make room in an already impossibly full stomach for more food. The Moroccan Hunch is neither graceful nor socially acceptable, but Middle Eastern food is that good that I’m willing to bust it out whenever necessary.
What it all comes down to is this: I can’t cook but I love food. And food is a way to spread happiness and community. I love sitting down to a well-prepared meal with my housemates – it makes our duplex feel like a home. (Slubs in general are food people.) And while Moroccan grandma and I were separated by almost every personal descriptor, including age, weight, language, culture, and standards of hygiene, we both greatly enjoyed a good bowl of couscous and eating a Ramadan cookie every day. (Or maybe 6 on grandma’s part.)
So I would like to make the personal vow to become comfortable in the kitchen. And I vow to chronicle my progress in that endeavor, at the very least so I can look back on this blog and think about what a square I was at 22. I can’t realistically say I’m ever going to be a good cook, and I’ve made the I-will-defeat-you-kitchen speech plenty of times before with zero follow-through, but since moving out and pretending to be an adult I’ve come to realize it’s an important skill to have. Plus my children will hate me if I only ever make them macaroni and cheese.
I leave you with a picture of Moroccan tagine: