I was hoping that this challenge was going to get easier for me as I went along. I expected to reach some kind of tipping point- a point in time where my antiquated ways of eating every meal in public would become harder to accomplish than simply coming home to my fully-stocked fridge and whipping up a delicious and healthy meal.
This hasn’t happened yet.
I still am exhausted when I get off work, and the last thing I want to do is think about what to make for dinner. I just want to go somewhere, point at a menu, and be done with it. The one high point I have been able to pull from this whole ordeal so far is definitely my bank account: I have over $300 more than I would normally have had at this point in my pay cycle.
However, the fact that I’m not really finding things easier (except on the nights that Meg cooks) got me thinking about the nature of what I specifically don’t like about cooking.
Is it the planning? Not really. If I wanted to think about what would taste good, I could do that. Honestly, what I’ve been doing lately to decide meals has been downright barbaric by comparison: I literally open the cookbook and point. So that I can take care of. Since I don’t really care what I eat, anything should work for me, and it does. I talk a lot of shit about eating things outside my wheelhouse, but most of that is hyperbole: I will eat vegan food, or vegetarian food, or gluten-free food, or a rotten animal carcass like my mom would (and probably has, knowing the constitution of that woman). So it’s not really the planning.
It’s not the eating. I like food. Really, I do! I can appreciate tasty food. I like complex flavors, varied textures, and food that is visually pleasing. I am willing to experiment, too. If we come over to your house to eat dinner, I promise you that I will eat everything on my plate, or at least give it the ‘ol college try.
Cooking, then? No. I like cooking. I think it’s fun running around the kitchen, flames and shit flaring up everywhere, trying to time things correctly so that everything comes together in a competent, if not necessarily impressive, meal. I like seeing other people enjoy my cooking, and I love the way that good food can anchor people to a table for hours, eating and drinking and laughing together. So if I like all these aspects of cooking, what don’t I like? What’s the problem?
It’s the preparation.
I cannot stand chopping up ingredients, measuring rice wine vinegar, peeling potatoes, and whisking eggs. I’m not good at measuring things by eye or feel, which seems to be one of the main ways to save time during this process. I just hate getting things into a state where they are ready to be cooked. I hate washing dishes by hand, since our house doesn’t have a dishwasher. As I write this blog post, sitting on a bus full of dead-eyed nine-to-fivers, the only thing I can think about is how much I hate peeling garlic. My eye just twitched. That’s how much I despise getting garlic out of that tiny fucking skin.
So what am I supposed to do?
I can buy a garlic peeler.
I can pick up a nice set of knives for chopping vegetables quickly. Hell, I could even buy a slap chop, as much as that idea of a slap chop inside my house sickens me. I can buy a ceramic-coated dutch oven, to help cleanup happen that much faster. I can pick up an immersion blender at a garage sale to whisk my eggs for me.
I could even buy a dishwasher. Go fuck yourself, rubber gloves.
I think my plan is pretty ironclad, but I still have questions. Clearly, some gadgets are going to be more important than others. A set of nice kitchen knives? Absolutely. A slap chop? Probably not. Should I invest in a Vita-Mix, so I can powder my dried bull penises more effectively? Or should I keep using my marginally decent blender that sometimes gets stuck while blending ice for smoothies?
This is where you come in, folks. I asked for your help once, and I will ask again. What are indispensable kitchen gadgets? Can’t live without your onion saver? Is the Kitchenaid mixer a lifesaver? Am I being an idiot? Let me know!