Lots of times, while I sit here in the evening punching out subtly horrendous thoughts during the week, I’m simultaneously cooking my dinner. You’d never know it, would you? I’m talented that way. The wonders of the cyberworld are such. You may basically live out your essence in front of an audience that doesn’t know any better or have the slightest clue that you’re buck naked or scrubbing the bathroom tiles or cooking dinner, all hidden in your prose’s background.
The extent of my weeknight cooking is usually limited to cuisine I can prepare and cook in 45 minutes, tops. I love to cook. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as putting a meal together and settling in to enjoy its full flavors, enhanced by the knowledge that it came to fruition courtesy of your own hands.
I couldn’t cook shit until I moved out on my own when I was 24.
I embarked on my culinary adventure apprehensively but not antagonistically. See, I grew up in a household where my father cooked at least half the time, and in many respects, he was the better cook. This was due to one reason: he enjoyed it more than my mom. She cooked but you could tell her heart was not in it. Her cooking resembled the quick-assembled mishmash recipes sold in bags or cans. She was not the type to feel her cooking. Cooking is like that…you gotta feel it. Cooking is an extension of passion and immersion in the activity. If you pour your soul into a meal, it will be visible and engraved within the aromas and flavors. A soulfully prepared dinner tastes different than something put together out of duty or obligation.
Splendid cooking is an art but when I first moved out, I didn’t see it this way.
I saw it as a mode of survival but still it was something I looked forward to for I saw my father cook throughout my entire youth. I don’t remember much of what I cooked, but my noteworthy culinary accomplishment was simply browned ground turkey seasoned with various Italian powders and spices, and pasta sauce from a jar to lend it substance. It was dependably tasty, easy, and I cooked it weekly. Those were the days I had no compunctions about spending money and eating out, so my cooking was sporadic and definitely unspectacular. I didn’t take it seriously enough. I did not feel it.
Then I got married, and embracing the domesticated nature of my predicament, I dove headlong into acquiring all cooking skills possible. My wife, owing to her somewhat “pampered” childhood, was not quite the firebrand in the kitchen and consequently, much of the cooking in the household became my duty. I devoted myself completely to refining my cooking skills. I bought cookbooks, planted myself in front of Food TV (circa 1998-ish) and absorbed all I could about the culinary arts. I perfected a recipe for spaghetti and meatballs which I pulled out of a glossy cookbook. The sauce and meatballs were made completely from scratch, unlike the rushed dish I threw together during my earlier bachelor years. I attempted to make risotto which was the epitome of culinary skill and I stumbled upon a fantastic chili recipe I found in a copy of “Joy of Cooking” I’d purchased. Cooking became a ritual, in many cases, an afternoon-long ritual performed over music and beers and the prickly odors of spices and sauces which filled my nose. I even wore an apron my Uncle brought back from Harrods while on a trip to London. The culmination happened at the dinner table when I brought the full dishes to the table where my wife and I would dig in and sample the experimental buffet. Those were my happiest married days.
Divorced, I still cook. It’s less grandiose now. The spectacle is gone. I discovered a great enchilada recipe in which the sauce is minimally tomato-ish and hence, not sweet which I encounter in popular recipes (and which I despise). Heavier on the spices, like cumin and fiery Arbol chili powder, my enchiladas have the faint bitter and potent taste of my special sauce.
Cooking also paid off in other ways. A couple of times I turned a hot meal into a romping night of sex with women I’d never slept with before. Feed a woman well and you ignite her sensual fires. A delicious meal ignites those embers and her sensual hungers will consumer her loins. However, a man should cook because he enjoys cooking and because he likes to eat what he cooks, but he should never cook in order to win a woman’s heart. A man has every right to cook if he thinks it will get him into a woman’s pants, but he should not cook in order to romantically endear himself to her.
I knew a guy who baked a great cheesecake. He was fond of his fucking cheesecake and he would bring it to work and gloat lamely as the women gushed; soon it seemed he brought a cheesecake to work anytime his ego was sputtering and running low on affirmations. It was an easy ego fix and I began to doubt the sincerity of his baking commitment. A man should cook, a man should be self-sufficient; in these days, any man who depends on a woman to service him (in a traditionally archaic manner which many in the MRM probably orgasm about) is to spell his own gloom. Self-sufficiency is manly and empowering. One of the greatest tools a man can wield against the forces of helplessness are a pan and a cutting board.
As you get older, you need to maintain your health carefully, and doing your own cooking allows you to dictate precisely what goes into your stomach and which ingredients you leave in or leave out. And many homemade meals keep well and storing them in the freezer or fridge guarantees a few days of quick meals for the times you just don’t feel like firing up the stove. Cooking is cheaper if you make your food stretch out and get over your little wussy leftover aversion. Actually, days you don’t feel like cooking are perfect for using a Crock Pot (Slow Cooker). Minimal work is involved. You chop (maybe), you season, you combine, pour in a little water, put the lid on and turn the knob to low or high, and run. You are cooking while you sleep or work or cut the lawn. Extravagant Slow Cooker recipes generally are lame and taste like crap, but it’s possible to make a complex Slow Cooker recipe turn out well. Still, it’s best to keep them simple.