I grew up in a two person household: the two people being my mother and I. We left the house for school and work at 6am every morning and came home at 6pm every evening. On weekends we would visit my grandmother on the other side of town and during the holidays I would be away at friends or family. My mother was not a cooking enthusiast and when she did cook, she’d make meals in large quantities and encouraged me to make regular use of the microwave. The only types of meat in our fridge were chicken and fish and pap was cooked when (and if) it was craved. By the time I went to varsity, I made sure to live in residences that prepared all meals for me, three times a day, every day of the week.
What I’m trying to say is that for most of my life, I could not cook. I had no reason to and was not raised in an environment that made me think that peanut butter sandwiches for supper were an odd deal.
So it’s strange now that when I’m not standing over a pot pouring this or other spice into the already aromatic dish before me, I’m watching cooking shows that show me exactly how to make the right kind of love.
That’s what food has become for me: an expression of love.
I only recently started learning and loving how to cook – in fact my love for cooking coincidentally coincides with my love for the man I am currently with.
I lie, it’s no coincidence. The first cohesive meal I ever made was for him and it was a near disaster, simple as it was. He invited me over for a sleepover and I, rather foolishly, offered to flex my nonexistent culinary muscles and cook for him. The meal was simple: pasta and minced meat. Or at least it was supposed to be. It took me at least twice as long as it was meant to and yet still came out a little bit undercooked, under seasoned and generally underwhelming. I therefore could not believe how excited and content he genuinely seemed to be at the outcome, even asking for seconds.
I’d never loved him more than I did in that moment
There is nothing on this earth more enjoyable for me than cooking for him and seeing the look on his face when he has to admit time and time again that I am the better cook of the two of us despite he being the one who taught me most of what I now know.
The competitive aspect aside though, cooking has become a labor of love for me. There’s just something about feeding someone purely because you want to and them knowing it, showing their appreciation by asking for seconds or even better, the recipe. It’s no different to writing someone a poem or knitting a jersey for them or painting a portrait of their face. Cooking is a work of art because you’re essentially creating something out of nothing, adding a little bit of yourself in every dish. And just as no two paintings can ever come out exactly the same, no two dishes will ever taste the same except in the amount of effort and love you put into them. Isn’t that something!
I also generally struggle with expressing affection and gratitude so I am grateful to have found a way to do so in a way that nourishes the body and the soul.
Thanks for reading and share when or why you started cooking and what it means to you!