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Cooking: Just Do It

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By the age of 30, I strongly believe that everyone, male and female needs to have at least ONE signature dish. They also need to make one good breakfast food.

Man and woman cannot live on takeout alone. Besides, you are going to be broke and you’ll still be hungry.

I won’t lie. I didn’t always know how to get down in the kitchen. My mom was a working mother and even when I wanted to help her, she’d take a deep breath and say, “baby, I’m so sorry, but I just want to get this done.”  As a working woman myself now, I totally get it. So don’t think my mom is some horrible person who didn’t have time for me. She had to feed us and then move on to the next thing. It’s ok. I have never held that against her. In fact, I admire her even more.

However, it did push me to work harder when I was learning and making mistakes.

There is something about a home-cooked meal and there is a certain level of satisfaction I get from cooking a meal, it being really good and others enjoying it. I am one of those people who believes cooking for people is a way of showing love. Including when you cook for yourself. If I make some fish in the middle of a work week, I sit there and say, hot damn this is good. I didn’t get it from a drive thru, this came from me.

In my last relationship, we cooked for each other and cooked together very often. His jambalaya was amazing, and he couldn’t wait for me to make some homemade salsa or my pulled pork (family recipe). Being in the kitchen together, we’d talk about our day, we’d play music and even dance together and share glasses of wine. We’d brush up against one another, trying to maneuver around the kitchen and flirt. Those were among my fondest memories.

We even combined both our mothers’ recipes for mac and cheese and it was soooo delicious. I can’t bring myself to make it that way anymore, since we aren’t together. It just doesn’t feel right. But see how powerful food is to our memories and our senses? It’s deep.

Either way, like many women of our generation, when I was younger, I thought cooking was counter to being an intelligent, successful, professional woman.  In our early twenties we seemed to fight against cooking for whatever reason because it seemed like it was what we were supposed to do for men, and it didn’t sit well with us.  It seemed like the girls our age who cooked, were always doing it for some dude and that’s all they cared about. Pleasing some dude.

Now that I think about it, was just plain stupid.

When you get older, you realize both kinds of girls were on to something, and the women who can balance both concepts were the ones who got it. Those women had great careers and seemingly happy relationships. Eureka!

The women in my life, like my mother who were the ultimate multitaskers, cooked awesome stuff that just made you feel good that you know you couldn’t have anyplace else. They certainly weren’t mindless Stepford wives, kowtowing to their men.

I tried cooking during my college years, and frankly, I sucked. I just couldn’t get it right. My friends make fun of me to this day for such failures as the pot roast (also called the ‘not roast’), the raw fried chicken and the burnt pancakes.

Eventually, I got it together and I was not only making edible food, but it was starting to taste good!

As I get older, there is also a very emotional aspect to it. I cook certain things to preserve family traditions that I don’t want to be lost forever when the people who started them pass. I have an aunt that passed away almost two years ago. I remember calling her up to learn how to cook pulled pork and she talked me through it the whole way. The same friends who dissed my not roast, raved and continue to ask me when I’m going to make the pulled pork again. (A six-hour labor of love, sauce made from scratch)

When she died, those of us who really enjoyed cooking wanted her recipes because even though she was gone tasting that food would be a physical way to still feel her. I’m sure she felt that way too when she got those recipes from her mother. My grandmother died before I was born, but because Aunt Mae still cooked the homemade soup, and because she, my mother and my Aunt Margaret, (both of whom married into the family) learned the pulled pork (what we call chopped bbq) and the strawberry roll (my mom pulled ahead of the pack on that one) and homemade ice cream (Aunt Margaret is the leader on that one), we all shared in my grandmother Laura’s legacy.

So ladies, if you are about to be 30 and you are still against cooking because you think it’s about pleasing a man, it’s so much more than that.

It helps, I won’t front. Because a lot of women these days don’t want to cook or they can’t, these men are hungry. I plan to write about all of the men being at Boston Market, lol.

I’ll leave you with this tidbit to chew on:

I asked a male friend what comes to mind faster, a mind-blowing sexual encounter you had or your mom’s best dish?

He said his mother’s best dish.

Case closed.

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