I love cooking and I spend a lot of time of time in the kitchen. In fact, if I lived my life just cooking, I might not mind so much… okay, that’s not true. I’m truly passionate about food and if I didn’t like food so much, I’d be successful in my desire to be a size zero and look like someone in the terminal stages of anorexia. It’s a look I like and you can judge me all you want. I feel great when I’m skinny. What’s even worse, I’m one of the people I know who can go straight from cooking to eating my own food and enjoy it immensely. I’m told this is rare.
Now one thing that’s common amongst people who love cooking is that we are exhibitionists – and like every exhibitionist, we like, need, require ‘an audience;’ someone who will savour our culinary effort and hopefully appreciate it, someone who would give us feedback, someone who would understand the thought, planning effort, but most of all the love and the heart that has to go into cooking to make it good. We don’t like cooking for just us. It gets boring.
Here is how it works. Do you know why it is difficult to eat the same meal from the same place every single day but quite easy to eat the same meal from different places every day? Heart. It is heart that creates variety in taste. When you eat commercially or mass-prepared food, a recipe is followed. What this translates to is that the same meal is cooked exactly the same way using a recipe that has been settled upon that suits their needs. All the items are measured in careful and deliberate proportions. The result is that rice and stew today is exactly like yesterday’s rice and stew.
Enter the homemaker, who is usually also the official cook for the family. And never mind that every once in a while, other people dabble into that rarefied space, there always is that one person whom everyone knows is in charge of the kitchen. Now this person, the official cook, to most people, it’s simply a question of cooking. That’s why you hear people open their mouths and say, ‘abeg joor, I don’t like when people do shakara about food as if it’s such a big deal.’
Here is why it’s such a big deal.
Planning; you really don’t want to feed people the same thing every time and definitely not cooked the same way. So you are constantly on the look out to improve on your skills and methods. Which is fun, right? Okay. But you the casual observer might not realize how much rigour goes into planning different meals. Imagine a house where people are fed three times a day and you don’t want them bored. Imagine a house where different people have different health needs; the weight watchers, the ones who love spice, the ones who don’t. You are trying to make everyone happy. Add to that keeping a careful inventory what you have and what you don’t have and if you have a strict budget, this work becomes multiplied times ten, right? Meanwhile you want a healthy family.
Stress; when I say stress, you think of the stress of the kitchen abi? There’s the heat. There’s all the chopping and washing and pounding and all, right? Before that there’s the going to market. I don’t even have to expound on this.
Self-denial; you know the times you have to deny yourself much needed sleep or your favourite TV show or something. You know when everyone is clustered around the TV and one person is slaving away in the kitchen? Ehen.
Now here’s the twist. WE DON’T MIND.
Please dear official cook, if you don’t love it, don’t do it. Because see, you don’t have to. Repeat after me I don’t have to. This is 2015. Get a job and use your salary to pay someone to take this job off your hands. If the man (and it’s generally the men) says he will eat only your food (some horrible men who have been pampered from their mothers to their sisters pull this shit on their wives), don’t let me advise you what to tell him to do with that nonsense. Again, this is 2015.
That said, however much we love and enjoy it, we expect a modicum of appreciation. The fact that someone loves doing something does not mean it does not require effort and they do not need to be appreciated. Imagine if you gave your kid a gift and he just took it and strolled away. Think about it. Most people who cook feel taken for granted. Someone goes through all this to cook for you. The very least you can do is to say thank you, make a comment about the food even if it didn’t quite hit the mark this time, wash your plates after eating. Relatively, that is not so hard, is it?
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