Although I can see how the conclusion might be drawn, I certainly didn’t grow up in the kitchen. I didn’t eat long, lavishly home-cooked meals at the table with my family. We ate things like meat, potatoes, corn, and peas and seasoned our meals with salt, pepper, mustard, and ketchup. The division of labor in the kitchen was just as simple as our food. My mom cooked every one of our meals. My dad’s only job was to show up, mash the potatoes, and eat.
It wasn’t until I was in my first relationship that food naturally became a major part of my life. Unlike my parents, my partner and I built a strong bond through food. We subscribed to a CSA and experimented with cooking based on whatever vegetables the farm sent our way. We ‘d bring backpacks from our apartment in Bed-Sty on the train into Manhattan to load up on groceries from Murray’s Cheese, the Chelsea Market, and other specialty stores. We’d reference our favorite cookbooks (primarily Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), write down our original recipes, and play Beatles records while we perfected the sauté.
One day, his mom asked me where I learned how to cook so well. I was so surprised she asked this question that I didn’t know how to answer. Somewhere along the line, I had learned how to cook.
I often ask myself why I like cooking so much–and every time I come up with at least 12 answers. Here’s one of them. Cooking is something I can commit myself to.
I think about that fantastic scene in Julie and Julia when Julia Child, played so joyfully by Meryl Streep, and her husband Paul first arrive in Paris. Over an impossibly charming dinner, she emphatically poses a question to her diplomat husband about how she will spend her time in France: “But what will I doooo?” she implores. All she knew was that she loved to eat.
The rest is history, I suppose. Child committed herself to cooking, transformed her life, and fundamentally changed American kitchens.
So in case anyone asks, that’s why I love cooking. Creativity, passion, and determination all come together when you set out to cook a wonderful meal. It’s also something wonderful to doooo.