Cooking has been such a controversial topic for me over the years. I took my time thinking if I should even bring it up – after all, it’s such a source of insecurity for me. I feel complicated about it, so I’d love to hear about experiences and opinions of other people!
Personally, I loathed cooking for a very long time. To me, it was a huge time waste, a boring daily chore, a gateway to a massive clean up, and (sigh) a very un-feminist thing to do.
Back when I only just met my husband, right before we moved in together, I warned him that I’m not one of these women who clean and cook. I might be ok with doing dishes after the meal (how generous of me, right?), but there’s no way in hell I’ll ever do the whole wifey routine.
Back when I was 21, I wasn’t interested in becoming a wife. To be honest, back then I wasn’t interested in becoming anything else at all. I thought that whoever I was, was enough as is. And whoever I was – that was a take it or leave it kind of deal.
While that attitude was not the wisest on my part as is led me to personal stagnation for a few years, it did gift me with the most patient, wonderful, perfect for me husband. He accepted the way I felt about household duties, and we started living together.
That first summer we lived together, I used the kitchen twice, both times to microwave leftovers of the meal that he previously cooked. Please note that I’m not bragging or exaggerating – this is just exactly how it was, and this little fact is important to show my journey.
He was the one to cook or buy breakfast. Lunch was usually bought at work, and dinner was normally something he’d cook. Sometimes it was a take-out meal. I felt grateful and a little guilty at times, but everything was better than I could possibly hope for back when I was a little girl. You see, in my culture (I’m from Eastern European country Belarus) it was normal to hear something like “who’s gonna marry you if you don’t know how to cook” or “what man is going to love you if you can’t do dishes well”.
Every time I heard any of that, I’d get rebellious. Not that I was much of a rebel, but the notion that a woman was loved primarily for her cooking and cleaning was repulsive, and I couldn’t help but resist it. So I learnt how to boil pasta and cook eggs, but I never got past the survival level of cooking.
And I was proud of it. It wasn’t laziness, or absence of curiosity – I do love me some delicious food, and I don’t mind spending hours learning a new skill. However, not learning how to cook was an active choice. I make my own money, and I’d rather spend it on take-out.
That was my thinking until a year or so ago. Something has shifted back then – and I still struggle to explain exactly what happened. Mostly, I just allowed myself to let my issues go. I let go of the wounds that my inner child was harboring, and allowed her to heal. I also let go of the idea of a feminist warrior that has to fight every single battle (even though most of those battles only exist in my head). I realized that I wouldn’t be betraying myself by learning a vital life skill that is good for any human being. But most importantly, I realized that it’s ok for me to take care of my husband in that traditional womanly manner once in a while.
He’s been doing his part of household chores (and then some) for years without complaining. Whenever a topic of food came up in the house, he was always enthusiastic and excited, and the only time there was a hint of remorse on his side was when he was describing how amazing it felt to feed people with product of his creativity and labor, and how sad it was that I couldn’t share the feeling yet.
So yeah, eventually I started cooking. I’m not amazing at it yet as I’m still getting used to spices, all while under-salting and under-peppering food most of the times. But I still keep on trying 🙂 It’s not always easy, but I learned to embrace the process. I fell in love with baking as it turned out to be very beginner-friendly. Doing the prep always sounded reasonable to me – now I just go through an added step of laying it all on a baking sheet and setting the temperature and the timer. At first, I was freaking out about under-cooking meet, but that’s what thermometers are for, so life is easier now 😉 One day, when I’m a bit more experienced, I’m sure I’ll write a post on how to start cooking for people who think that they hate cooking. I already can’t wait for that day!
It’s also important to note that I’m not cooking all 3 meals every day. Most days it’s only 1/3, and more meals are now cooked by both of us simultaneously. He teaches and guides me, and this is a whole other source of joy of cooking – it is something that we can do together.
All in all, my relationship with cooking has improved because of my relationship with my husband. Cooking (or any other chore) was not expected of me, and that’s why I slowly became interested in it. As soon as I realized that there’s no reason to be in a defensive mode, I let myself explore so much more. Cooking is fun, it is a creative process, and heck – the results taste delicious! And yes, I’m writing this post while my amazing husband is cooking his signature rice&beans. Life is good 🙂
What is your experience with cooking? Is is something you always liked to do, or does it have a strictly utilitarian function in your life? I’d love to chat about your experience!