food

Sorry mom: I cook only when I want to (which is hardly ever)

Sorry mom: I cook only when I want to (which is hardly ever)

green soup

When I was a young girl, I mightily declared that I would never learn to cook because I didn’t care to be that type of woman when I grew up. My family laughed at me thinking I was odd and naive. Of course, I would learn to cook eventually, they thought. If I wanted a husband there was no if or buts about cooking. Of course, when they would say such things to me I would respond that I would marry a man who didn’t care whether I cooked. My family would laugh even harder at that. In their eyes a man that didn’t care if his wife cooked or not was as rare as a unicorn.   Well, I showed them.

That’s right. I do not cook. I went through a period right after college where I actually cooked by following recipes. I learned to make chicken corn chowder, beef stew, spaghetti and goat cheese and sour cream apple pie. I also dabbled in Indian food making chicken vindaloo and tikka masala. I was out of school in a mindless job and I am a mindful kind of girl. Well, I was working with idiots and needed my brain to keep going. Thus, I started following recipes. I figured why not learn a new skill.

Then I stopped cooking. Why?  I lived in New York, California and Georgia. That is why. Now let me explain.

First off, in New York grocery shopping is an endeavor of endurance. Grocery stores don’t stock deeply and often food is way best its expiration date.  Fresh vegetables are not plentiful. Buy some today and tomorrow it already is rotten. Plus, you then have to walk black upon block with your bags or you have to cram into a subway with your food and hope that no one steps on it. Mind you, you first have to make it out of the grocery store in one piece. I have seen so many fights in grocery stores over people skipping in line. Boy, do we get heated about those lines!  Once you make it home, your 250 square foot apartment and your clothes stink for days after you cook.  In my last apartment building in New York, there was a deli in my building that cooked almost anything one wanted. I could get a ham, egg and cheese sandwich at 5:30am for $1.99. It is just not worth it to me to cook in New York.

Second, in northern California, you can go to cheap Chinese restaurants and get food for a dollar. Or you can go to Indian buffets for really low prices. Its cheaper to eat out at those places than to pay the exorbitant California prices. For example, a tray of sugar cookies in New York is $2.99 at a supermarket while in San Francisco the same size tray of sugar cookies is $5.99. Of course, you take big risks eating out all the time. All five years I previously lived in California I ended up in the emergency room with food poisoning at least once a year.  Cest la vie.  The other reason I do not cook here in San Francisco: those hills kills me. I thought walking blocks in New York with groceries was tiring. Here it is deadly. By the time I get up the hill, I am literally dripping in sweat and i feel like I am going to die.  After my third shopping experience, I just did not feel like eating.

Third, in Atlanta I lived in a furnished studio apartment for a short period of time and was getting to know the city. I love southern food. There was no way I was going to cook anything remotely as good. Atlanta has great restaurants. I almost like them more than restaurants in New York and San Francisco. There is great Lebanese, Cuban and barbecue in Atlanta. Don’t get me started on dessert. I thoroughly enjoyed eating out.

There you have it. Despite my family’s early laughs at my wild thoughts and ideas, I have not really cooked. I can’t honestly say “I don’t know how to cook.” I do know how to read and follow a cookbook. I cook when I want to or when I am at a random restaurant in a Tokyo side street.  Sorry mom.

japanese cooking

8 replies »

  1. I found your post so intriguing, Mimi…especially your insights into living in those cities and the difficultiues of juist getting your shopping home.
    When I was going through chemo last year and thinking about what I could pass onto my kids easily and I decided to teach them to cook. This was an eye-opening experience because they struggled to use the grater, peel a potato and following the steps in sequence so I decided to pursue the cooking thing not only in terms of eating but as a valuable life lesson tool. It’s also been interesting for me too because I developed chemo brain after my treatment and so the cooking has been good for me too. It actually takes quite a lot of planning etc to synchronise all the part of a meal and have it ready on time. I’m still working on that.
    It also sounds like takeaway food is cheaper in the US.
    xx Rowena

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    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I can see how invaluable your teaching the kids to cook must have been for the kids. I too remember the fist time I used a peeler 🙂 Or the first time I boiled an egg. lol I think cooking imparts good skills. As a matter of fact my son (who is six) has been taking cooking classes at school and loves it. Yes, having been in australia, I can definitely say takeaway food is cheaper in the US.

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      • That would make quite a difference. I really hate paying good money to eat out and feeling ripped off because I do cook much better myself for half the cost. Also, we don’t have that 24/7 culture here unless you’re looking at some McDonalds stores. That said, there’s always the microwave dinner.

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  2. I think it’s important for all people to be able to cook SOMETHING. lol Even if it’s just a grilled cheese or a fried egg, feeding one’s self is a good thing.
    I love to cook, and I do it all the time. I live in the Midwest, so my lifestyle is much more home-based.
    Like you, I certainly don’t think cooking is necessary to womanhood or wifely duties. Rather, I hate that mentality, because some men enjoy cooking more than some women, and falling in love shouldn’t depend at all on who’s making breakfast or mowing the lawn.
    When I don’t feel like cooking, The Mister takes me out, or we order something. I would think that if neither person enjoys cooking, they just do that a lot.
    I have a child who tells me she will never need to do any household or garden tasks. I hope she gets what she wants, but I teach her anyway. More skills and knowledge is never a bad thing! 🙂

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