Monday, August 17, 2009

Part One: Love and Hate

Cooking is almost a dirty word in my world. Yeah, ouch! But, it’s honest. I have to cook in order to live, which also makes it sacred. There is no other way around my situation under my present circumstances with my current resources. However, my disregard for, fear from ignorance, and distaste (pun intended) of cooking has been under constant revision as I have struggled to embrace it as the way of my life. My journey has not been pretty or easy. I’ve experienced a lot of resistance to my truths from other people. I don’t fit in anywhere and have bungled in making my own path. At times I have given in to peer and societal pressures to be like them, to be “normal,” and this has always led to my further demise, doom, and gloom. I am far from finished; I have not arrived, and will surely discover more of my erroneous notions in the future. Perhaps one day I will adore cooking, and I do have faith that that is possible. For now, I see myself as the court jester, the clown, the trickster, and the canary of American culture.

Many of my inculcated values have served me ill. It’s not feminist for me to be a “slave to the kitchen.” It’s un-American not to eat as much premade, packaged, processed, prepared at the hands of others food. It’s anti-capitalist to “waste time” in real cooking. That “time should be spent” pursuing more meaningful engagements that stretch the fabric of my intellect. How “uncivilized” it is to cook; cooking is such “primitive” behavior. These are just a few, but aren’t they enough to keep an industrious gal out of the kitchen? Cooking does look awful bad under these labels that carry so much cultural weight over who I’m supposed to be as a modern, American woman. Certainly I should not be expected to carry the preposterous burden of cooking every meal from scratch with sourced out ingredients here in this day and age. And, most people I encounter like to remind me of this “fact.”

My mother was never really fond of cooking in her own right as a person. If she didn’t perceive that she had to, she didn’t. I think she was trying to save my older sister and me from the duties of cooking because she wanted to be liberated from them herself. Neither of us grew up in the kitchen. Making stained glass candy for Christmas presents was a rare exception of fun together in the kitchen. Both my sister and I learned to cook from reading cookbooks, asking friends, etc. as adults. My mother would never deny that.

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