Thea Devine today, thinking that the above sentiment started the day that my firstborn, who is living with us for the time being, said to me that he was having heart attacks watching me slice onions. Or maybe it was the day we finally got propane and installed a gas stove, which my husband, who does cook, had been wanting for the ten years we’ve been living in CT.
In any event, my son decided that a) he dislikes watching me cook with the sole purpose of “getting it over with”; b) the notion of the “throwing it into the oven” was an unacceptable term for roasting; c) he’d do almost anything to keep me out of the kitchen.
And when I do cook, as I did last night, he comes wandering into the kitchen and peers over my shoulder. Did you scrub the mussels? Individually? Discard open ones? And saute garlic for the sauce? I felt like I was back in my junior high home economics class. Teacher is watching. Only he happens to be my son. Making me feel fourteen again. And how many years ago was that??
He’s been coming into my office every couple of evenings to casually ask, what’s for dinner? And I say — roast, spaghetti, chicken, whatever, and he says, I feel like cooking. And I say, really? I wouldn’t mind.
And finally I say, if you even ask, you know I’m going to say, yes. Because he’s suddenly cooking a lot in an explosion of experimentation and trying to educate my palate to like spicy food. He hooks up his computer in the kitchen, surfs recipes, and cooks. With love.
I was planning my last ditch when-I-have-nothing-else-in-mind-for-dinner tuna noodle casserole one night, when he said, do you mind if I do it? I said, go ahead, but understand that if you take it up a notch, you will bear the burden of cooking it next time.
And he said, it’s not a burden, it’s joyful, it’s fulfilling. And I melted.
I’ve seen this happen before — with my husband. His mom was a fabulous cook. My mom wasn’t. My first post-marriage birthday present from my husband was the New York Times Cook Book. Enough said.
However, my husband didn’t start cooking seriously until he was going through a rough patch career-wise. My son is going through something similar now. For them, cooking is cathartic, a creative outlet, almost the way writing is for me.
And there are other similarities: it’s hands-on. It has a beginning, a middle, an end. It’s an accomplishment. It can be experimental or comforting, complex or plain, there can be lots of accompaniments, or a focus on just one thing. In the end, something is produced that is consumable (words or a pot roast) and there’s audience feedback.
Me, I’d rather write, play guitar (and write lyrics), crochet, — I could lovingly do those things for hours. I’m always psychically at war with anything that keeps me from writing especially (read housework, shopping, paying bills, cooking).
Which is why I “throw it in the oven.” I’ve got a book to write, plots to carve and words to chop, saute and bake (slowly and lovingly) into the cake that will be my next novel. I’m happy to leave the cooking to someone else. I love it that they don’t want me in the kitchen. But shhh — don’t tell them. … Actually — I think they already know.
Do your men cook? Is there anything you love to do more than anything else? Anything creative? Or do you just ove to cook, and is that your respite?
Thea Devine is working on the sequel to The Darkest Heart, now titled Beyond The Night and scheduled for release April 2013 by Pocket Star.