Posted by: sailingspirit | April 11, 2011

Eggs…over everything

I didn’t get the cooking gene.

All the women in my family are great cooks, some of my boyfriends have been fabulous cooks, and guilty by association only I’ve seen many hours of those cooking channel shows people seem to be so addicted to.  (Does watching other people eat count towards satisfying a food addiction?  I’d be curious to hear from someone about that.)  Mom is always cheffing away at something, and she has cabinetry full of appliances, gadgets, and serveware totalling more cubic footage than most places I’ve lived in.  Growing up, she always made my lunches before school and, one of the lucky few, we always homemade food on the family table by 5:30pm.  Including homemade pizza, spaghetti sauce, and stir fry.  (Though I realize now, ethnic had to be homemade because our town was too small to offer any of those things as take-out.)

Mom blames herself a little bit, for my handicap, because she always fixed dinner and then called us to the table when it was time to eat.  As a result, I developed a Jetsons-style relationship with food; at every restaurant I expected the wait staff to take my order and then promptly return with it.  She tried to explain to me that they had to make it first, but mostly it was the tic-tac-toe on the paper placemats that got me through.

But it can’t be all her fault, because as I got older that misunderstanding should have rectified itself.  Instead, my syndrome has only solidified.  Have you seen that show…Top Chef I think it is?…where they put several incongruent ingredients into a basket and expect the chefs to make something brilliant out of them?  My every day experience is like that.  I open the fridge, or the pantry, and am convinced no “meal” exists in there.  None to be had.  Just none.  All those foods and nothing to eat.  Truly, you could put a basket in front of me that contained everything–and no more–to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and days later I’d still be hungry.  (Well, no, I would have eaten the loaf of bread slice by slice and maybe, a day or two later, taken the occasional spoonful of peanut butter like a lollipop.)

My beloved ex-boyfriend, bless his soul, was inexplicably tolerant of my handicap.  He was a fantastic cook, y’know the kind that sniffs things and then throws them recklessly into the pot?  I couldn’t be in the kitchen with him despite my awe of his talent.  Firstly, because he darted and dashed every which way so I was always run over, but mostly because I would be vaclempt every time he did something without explicit recipe instructions.  I was convinced of decided deviance ruin!   And with my history (you should have seen the carnage after I attempted rice crispy treats as an undergrad), I felt I had good reason.  But I couldn’t even do what he told me to do, despite his raving success.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  One time it started a fight.

Baroa
Image by Hannap via Flickr

So, God bless him, he appeased me every which way.  At least three times a week I would rave over some fabulous flavor, and he would reply, “It’s the same thing you always ask me about, and that I always tell you.  It’s garlic.”  He would pack leftovers into containers, some for his own work lunches and some for me, and upon realizing that I cannot recognize Tupperware as food, began putting post-it notes on everything in the fridge, such as “I Am Lunch.  Eat Me!”  He made me my own Hungry Monster (from the Weight Watchers commercials) to motivate me, bought me those children’s books where they make animals out of food, and once he even put a mashed-potato snowman on my plate.  I was so delighted with the potato man I couldn’t eat it; he reached over and smashed it with his fork, but then I couldn’t eat it because I grieved him so.

The thing that seems to work best is to slide a plate of finger foods under my nose while I work, like a zookeeper; I absent-mindedly pluck hours beyond everything getting cold.  He actually told my mother this when we broke up; “You know you’re gonna have to feed her, right?”  It was like I was a toddler changing custody.

I really only eat because I have to, not because I enjoy it.  Willy Wonka-style meal pills would work fine for me.

So, as you might expect, the first evening after he moved out I managed a fire, a flood, and an explosion in short succession in the kitchen.  Apparently if you’re not so sure your eggs are fully hard-boiled, it’s a bad idea to put them in the microwave.  Gordon Ramsay would need a whole new vocabulary for me.  Which is such a shame, because I’ve developed such a respect for him.

So I’m sorry if my scant domesticity disappoints you, all of you, but I just don’t have enough insurance coverage to make dinner.  Do you like Lebanese?  I know this fabulous schwarma place….

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