My office recently held its annual “pot luck lunch” which should’ve been called the “no luck lunch.” The Tupperware and CorningWare were sorely outnumbered by the bakery boxes and other pre-packaged, store-bought items. In fact, there were so few homemade dishes that the office manager, fearing there was not enough food to go around, ordered in several trays of salad, sides, and main dishes from a nearby restaurant. Having said that, my officemate’s Tupperware and my CorningWare were present and accounted for on that big conference table.
While I understand that not everyone has the cooking gene, still, it was disappointing to see that there were so few cooks in the group. After all, the plethora of cooking shows on cable television would have you believe that everyone is in the kitchen whipping up either a weekend feast or a quick “Tuesday through Thursday night” one-pot meal.
A common complaint I hear is that there’s no time to cook. Yet my officemate – a mother of two, who doesn’t have a dishwasher – found the time to cook. And despite my daily three-hours of commuting, so did I.
Have you ever heard a woman say, “Oh, I don’t cook,” with a nuanced tone, or a subtle hand gesture that implies she thinks that cooking is trivial or demeaning? While it’s her prerogative to feel that way, and her choice whether or not to cook, it troubles me that the remark makes those of us who do cook feel as if our culinary endeavors lack value. After all, isn’t cooking the most gracious form of hospitality?
As for me, after a stressful day, nothing relaxes me more than going into my kitchen. Mia cucina. That time is sacred to me. The moment I start chopping some vegetables, or sink my hands into a bowl full of flour and butter…well, I become transformed. Besides, cooking is not only a great stress-buster – you end up with something to show for your efforts. Something tangible. Something nourishing. Something delicious.
Two days after the office pot luck, my officemate’s son informed her that he’d signed her up to help with a school bake sale. She had two days in which to bake four dozen cupcakes. I loaned her one of my muffin tins so she could do two batches at a time.
So, here’s a message to all my fellow cooks: Cooking is both a skill and an art. It doesn’t make you seem old-fashioned, or any less a feminist. What you do matters – and it is appreciated.