Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cooking by the book

Other has been so overwhelmed with managing his sister's (int)estate that I am finally trying to chip in with the household chores, including the dread food-preparation ones. Because for many years I was the main wage earner, cooking and cleaning fell to Other, but as his work hours have increased, it has become clear that it's not fair for him to be responsible for ALL the drudgery at home. So I am now a (grudging) drudge too.

I don't mind bundling up the garbage, scrubbing down the bathroom, cleaning the windows. Nobody expects those chores to yield anything but cleanliness. But the aura of creativity that surrounds cooking has always seemed to me to be a big lie. If you follow the instructions, the recipe yields the predicted results, and everyone applauds. But how is that different from, say, successfully cheating on an exam, where you take the known answer and copy it and get an A? Of course, in cooking (as in test-taking) the alternative is veering off the tried-and-true path and suffering spectacular and humiliating failure—like my infamous creamed onions (with spontaneously added cheese) that kept Other and me in our apartment with the windows open for three days.

But buckling under to the notion of fair play and practicality, I have been dutifully (slavishly) following recipes for a few weeks now. This has resulted in a larger-than-expected vegetarian-lasagna-rollup project that temporarily festooned the apartment with cooling pasta and spattered the environs with tomato sauce but was otherwise uneventful—and edible—and a curried-cauliflower dinner (I dared to serve it on quinoa instead of rice!) that met with approval, as well as some other less notable meals.

Pleased as I am that I did not have to throw these dishes out, I can't say I gained much satisfaction from making them. Where's the joy? Where's the adventure? Where's the risk? I just don't think I'm cut out for this.

No comments: