My boyfriend has this complex…and hopefully he doesn’t mind me outing him here…He doesn’t like to cook…not just because it’s a hassle and he’d rather relax, but because he thinks he’s going to screw it up. That’s understandable coming from someone who never cooks, but how is someone supposed to overcome that if they don’t ever, ever try to cook anything?
So, I nag…and I nag…and I nag. I love cooking; this is obvious! I’m exhausted after work too, though. Exhausted and famished, which makes me more exhausted…and crabby. Sometimes I just don’t have the willpower to stand up in the kitchen and make anything, but I also don’t want to eat a sandwich just because I’m too tired to cook. Sandwiches are all B. makes, though…outside of a fried egg here and there…maybe a salad, if I really want one.
Last March, we got into a small argument about cooking. I was harassing him because I’d just made dinner and was “playfully” going on about how nice it felt and wouldn’t he enjoy feeling as if he accomplished something like that, especially doing something nice for his girlfriend…His reply set me over a bit–something about “Why bother if I can make it from a box?” I kind of went off, going on and on about “Oh, well why make you mashed potatoes for dinner if I can get them from a box? Why make you a nice, from-scratch birthday cake if I can get it from a box?” and other such examples. My point was, if it’s so pointless to make food from scratch since you can get virtually anything in a box on the grocery store shelf, then why am I bothering? I’ll just start doing that too! Interestingly, he wasn’t fond of the idea…
It reminded me of a story Alton Brown told during a lecture at my university. His wife had made spaghetti with tomato sauce and, when he tasted the sauce on the stove, he casually said it could use more of a certain herb; supposedly, it was six months before she ever cooked for him again. Now, I probably wouldn’t go that far, especially over that kind of “critique,” but the point is…if you don’t appreciate what I’m doing, you don’t need it and maybe I should stop!
Of course, B. does appreciate my cooking; he just doesn’t want to do it himself. I swear, though, a lot of it is about the belief that he’ll fail. I made him cook our pancakes one morning, to show him how easy it was and that I didn’t need to be the one to make them all the time. And you know what happened? He was bopping around, smiling as he poured each ladle of batter onto the griddle; he was enjoying himself! He actually said it was fun.
Since then, I’ve been getting him to help with certain things, here and there…chop up some onions and garlic…prepare the rice for boiling…cut up the potatoes…season the chicken. Little tiny baby steps, haha. One night last week, though, I came home feeling so heavy on my feet, there was no way I was going to make dinner; we had freshly defrosted chicken in the fridge, but I couldn’t even deal with just putting it in the oven. B. offered to make…surprise! Sandwiches. You know what? I hate sandwiches. I only like them if I’m craving one, otherwise, I don’t want anything to do with them! So, I threw a very tiny, rational fit (yes, you can essentially throw a fit while staying calm!) about how all he has to do is season potatoes and chicken and throw them in the oven–nothing could be easier. And he conceded!
And dinner was delicious. Oh my god…the first time he makes chicken and it’s cooked perfectly (so plump and juicy), seasoned perfectly. The same with the potatoes. He even prepared a mustard glaze that was so simple a child could pull it off. There was nothing difficult about it! Yet, it was so flavorful and satisfying; I loved the glaze. Of course, I stood there and supervised, but I didn’t touch a thing. I just didn’t want to give him the chance to screw up simply because his mind was set on it. I know he can cook and I’ll be damned if he’s not going to figure that out himself…I’ll also be damned if I’m going to have to eat a sandwich or buttered noodles (*gag*) just because I want to take a night off.
My hope is that, one day, B. will be as confident in cooking as I am. That he’ll realize most dishes are as easy as following a recipe and having common sense; that he’ll even realize you can change up a recipe depending on what ingredients you want to use or flavors you’re looking for–nothing has to be exact. Going a step further, I hope that other people with similar mindsets will learn the same–and, if not for themselves, then for their loved ones! Think of how nice it feels when someone makes a really good meal for you, especially one of your favorites. Think of how grateful you are when you can put your feet up in front of the television after work, able to catch your breath and unwind, while someone stands in the kitchen, sacrificing a portion of their post-work relaxation, cooking not only for him or herself, but for you. Don’t you want to make someone else feel the same way?
And, if none of that works for you…don’t you just want the nagging to end? 🙂