Food hasn’t been a love/hate relationship, nor a saga of an eating disorder, but for me, it’s quite important.
I’ve always loved food. I remember returning home from friend’s houses as a child and telling Mum (on the doorstep as I was being dropped off) that I was still hungry, much to her mortification.
I enjoy eating, I love to try new tastes and textures; if I ever visit a new place, food is always a priority.
I think this has a lot to do with my childhood; we always sat as a family to eat dinner at the table, eating out was a big deal, we never went to McDonalds, and we rarely had ‘fast food’ at home, but if my parents had a takeaway we were always allowed to try some as a special treat before bed. When we went on holiday we would be encouraged to try new things, and as we did self-catering accommodation we would alternate nights out with nights in, Mum would experiment with local produce and replicate what we had in the restaurants. I don’t think I even had a ready meal until I went to university.
And then I had a lot of them.
Because I have always HATED cooking. I did graphic design to escape home economics.
It’s a bit of a contradiction that someone who savours food so much completely abhors the making of it.
So it’s no coincidence that I married a man who is as passionate about food as I am, but who can actually cook it.
But this has facilitated my non-cooking status; I’ve never had good enough reason to actually try. There were a few instances when we first moved in together when I did make an effort, and it went spectacularly wrong, raw chicken, anyone? And that was enough for it to be firmly planted in my head. I. HATE. COOKING.
Or, as my husband so eloquently interpreted it, ‘You just prefer sitting, watching someone else, drinking a glass of wine’.
Ahem. Yes. That too.
Even, I admit, when I had the Little Men, I would be home all day, manage to cobble something together for them (I shamefully admit this involved many tins of ravioli and macaroni), and then wait for the Big Big Man to come in, usually around 7 pm after a twelve hour day at work and ask ‘What’s for dinner? I’m starving’. I must also mention that due to his Awesomeness he genuinely did not mind this, he has always perceived cooking as his ‘job’.
But recently, things have started to change.
As an official Stay At Home Mum, with no college commitments, no tiny baby breastfeeding every minute of every day, and two very hungry boys, I have decided it’s time to pick up the baton and OWN this bloody culinary palaver, and give my husband the break he deserves. I definitely have the time, and I’m slowly gaining the inclination.
I’ve gone from tins (I never did freezer food, though I don’t think that is really an achievement) to made from scratch meals. The Little Men have never had a chicken nugget in their own home, they know pizza has to be made several hours before so it can rise, they don’t like burgers and they swear that ‘Daddy’s Pasta’ is the best thing that happens. Ever (It’s a made-from-scratch tomato based sauce and chorizo).
They are pompous little eaters in other words.
As am I, I suppose.
And it’s been the Little Men that have, unintentionally on their behalf, pushed me to keep at this cooking thing. Jamie Oliver has been pretty inspirational too – I love the food he cooks and I really get on with the style he writes his books. It’s ages old now but ‘Jamie’s Italy’ has become a staple for recipe ideas.
I did an aubergine bake with grilled salmon and I did not hear a sound from either child as they ploughed through it, until the Little Little Man looked up, banged his bowl on the table and implored ‘Moooore’. I tailored the risotto blanco to suit the leftovers in the fridge, and watched the Big Little Man fish out all the leeks to crunch his way through them, before moving onto the rest. And I threw in chunks of marrow (homegrown after we forgot about the courgettes we’d planted) to a homemade spaghetti Bolognese and turned around from the sink to find all plates empty.
My children appear to love my cooking. My husband seems quite fond of coming home and not having to cook. And I quite like having a bit more of a purpose. And, boy, do I love watching my family eat healthy, nutritious, homemade food.
I quite enjoy it myself.