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Why I Cook March 10, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Family, random stuff.

A few weeks ago, Michael Ruhlman, on his blog, posted an essay (for want of a better word) about why he cooks, and then he challenged other bloggers to do the same.

While it may seem like I waited to see what other people were saying – after all, the original Ruhlman post was nearly a month ago – that’s not quite the case.  I actually gave this a lot of thought – and I’m not sure I’m happy with what I came up with.

I was never really taught to cook by my mother – I think, back then, “cooking”  was pretty much just something the wife/mother did.  Don’t get me wrong – my mother was – and still is – a perfectly good cook.  It’s just that there was no nonna or aunt who took me under her wing and TAUGHT me, you know?

I started cooking when I was a teenager – about 14.  My parents were involved in a car accident, and my mother was hospitalized for 3 weeks.   As the oldest of 4 kids, it kind of fell to me to take over all of the chores – the milking, the laundry, and the cooking.

And I did it out of spite.

My grandmother, never my champion, basically declared that I “couldn’t handle it” because I was “just a kid”  (with a cigarette hanging out of her face)  (in the barn)  and I decided that YES I CAN (and that’s the ONLY time you’ll hear that phrase out of me!).

And I learned – not because I loved it, and not because I wanted to nurture anyone.  Just to spite my grandmother.

Then I married Surly Boy‘s dad.  Who had a sister.

That sister decided to take me under her wing and “teach me how to cook on a budget.”

Um, thanks but no thanks.  I don’t need to make spaghetti sauce by diluting a can of tomato paste, thankyouverymuch.


So I learned some more – I could cook on a budget, only people would actually want to eat my food.  In spite of my horrid sister-in-law.

Now, though, it’s different.

I only see the poisonous grandmother on holidays, and the patronizing sister-in-law is long gone.

So why do I cook NOW?

Well, somewhere along the line, I learned to actually enjoy it.

It’s not about relaxing after work – most of the cooking I do happens on the weekends.

It’s not about feeding my family – Surly Boy is grown up and moved out, and Peeps is more than capable of fending for himself.

But I do enjoy trying new recipes, and I enjoy tasting new things.

And I like doing something that I believe I’m at least moderately good at – I usually don’t receive too many complaints, anyway, which is something.

So I guess, the answer to the original question is “because I can” and “because I find satisfaction in it.”

Though I think, if I’m honest, there’s still a spite thing.  I want, in some way, to receive a “well done” – or even a  “WOW.”  I like doing things well – and I really like doing them better than anyone else.

Kinda sad, huh?



1. Mazco34 - March 10, 2010

Don’t sell yourself short.

I’m sure if I ask Peeps he would tell me that you are a wonderful wife.

And if I asked Mon Capitan, he would say you are a good paralegal.

Finally, I think you’re one of the best bloggers on the web. I could never do what you do here. I think it’s amazing.

Just don’t get a big head, okay?

Well, you know, I wasn’t always this wonderful, Maz. 🙄

2. The_Swedish_Chef - March 10, 2010

Great, great, GREAT story!!!! I love your honesty and candor that you shared; I’d rather read a real story than a fictionalized one! As they say, “It doesn’t matter what the journey was like, it’s the destination that matters.” We have an extremely similar background in our childhoods but what matters now is that I LOVE to bake and cook for my family, no matter how it all began. I’d add more but really need to fill my coffee cup and let out the cat. 🙂

Well, you know. . . I try to be honest, at the very least, with myself. And the internet allows me just enough anonymity to be honest with the rest of the world – or at least, um, our tens of readers! 😉

And after all, if we don’t understand where we’ve been, well, how can we know where we’re going, you know?

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