Six years! A lot has happened in the past six years. I’m the mother of a teenager now. I started playing the cello. I changed jobs. I moved. Matt and I are not together anymore. My MS has progressed (not tragically, but noticeably). There’s a global pandemic, so I haven’t left my house in a year. Like everyone, I miss people.
There’s plenty to be said about all of that, and I’d hardly know where to start. Can I share something less drastic instead?
It has recently come to my attention that I’m not a good cook.
John told me recently (and I’m sharing this with his permission): “The texture of this makes me feel like I’m about to get salmonella.” It wasn’t because the food was raw. I checked that. It’s because it was not good. If salmonella comes to mind while you’re eating, then you aren’t in a good place. Sometimes when I try new things, we have to open the windows and doors to air the house out before we eat a sandwich instead of whatever I was trying.
Is this a new phenomenon? Maybe not. I recall having friends over for meals when it was still possible to have friends over, and I did it joyfully and with gusto. I must have felt ok about it at the time. But I can also remember a corn pudding that didn’t rise, a shrimp stew that fused to the pot, a pie that was more of a pudding. I once gave up and ordered pizza instead. Nobody has complained (in my presence), but it might have been because of the cocktails I gave them before dinner. If I ever fed you something terrible, I’m sorry about that.
Particularly in the past year, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how they just enjoy the ritual of cooking. It feels comforting and productive. In the absence of restaurants, they’ve put more care into they food they make, with delicious results. Me? None of that. I would like to eat more delicious food, but I find cooking a chore and if I could get away with eating just cheese and crackers for dinner, I usually would. (And I do.) I wonder if this has some impact on my outcomes. The food knows that I’m not that into it, and the food retaliates.
Like a basketball player who’s only consistent from one spot on the floor (still putting my basketball knowledge to good use!) I do have a few reliable moves. I can slap a pork butt in the slow cooker and it comes out great, although I think that’s because barbecue is delicious, not because of anything I did. I can grill a burger. I’ve become very adept at mac and cheese (you’re welcome, John). Tacos. A couple of soups. I’m a fully fledged, extremely middle aged, independent person, so I’m not saying I can’t feed myself and those who depend on me. I’m just clearly not that great at it. (And baking doesn’t count. That’s just butter.) I can’t figure out how I never realized this before now.
I had my second vaccine shot last week and it feels like there may someday be a world again where I can have friends over. When the right time comes, I might be able to pull off a meal or two. But if you find yourself eating good food at my table, you can bet that it’s either the second try that day or it’s something completely different than what I’d planned. If necessary, I’ll just make you a sandwich.