Most of the time, I hate cooking. It’s a lot of trouble and you have to clean up afterward, which is even more trouble than cooking. Result: a lot of takeout and a lot of microwave meals, not to mention my favorite peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I don’t know any adult who eats PB&J sandwiches as much as I do. Maybe it’s true that even women enter a second childhood, and I’m getting mine younger than most. At least I haven’t regressed to eating white bread with margarine and a dollop of sugar, as I did when I was eight years old and already had a mouthful of fillings.
I also eat a lot of hummus and pita bread, even though I’m a shiksa.* The gene for this comes from one Jewish ancestor on my mother’s side. He was a Scottish Jew, so he was probably fonder of oatmeal and shortbread than of hummus and pita. But those ancient Middle Eastern Mediterranean genes will out themselves, and I got them. Bring on the babaganoush!
There was time when I could make a mean spaghetti sauce from scratch, using my Italian grandmother’s instructions. You wouldn’t call it a recipe, because, until my mother came along, nobody ever wrote it down, probably because nobody knew how to write. You didn’t need measuring spoons or cups for this; you just had to know how much of what to put in and when. Once you put the ingredients together, you had to simmer it for a few hours. It tasted great when it was fresh, and even better after it had been sitting in the refrigerator a day or two and allowed to age a little. My Hungarian goulash was pretty popular, too. At least people ate it and nobody complained or died or anything.
My culinary masterpieces, however, have been eclipsed by my culinary disasters.
Have you ever made Jell-O using evaporated milk? Well, I have. It turned out fluffy and full of little holes. I thought it wasn’t bad, but I never tried to get anyone else to eat it. I knew better. I saw the looks on their faces.
You know those commercials where they suggest making a meal by pouring some Campbell’s soup over rice? Well, I go them one better. I pour the can of soup into a saucepan, dump in a packet of Success rice, add a tiny bit of water to make sure there is enough liquid, and boil it until the rice is cooked. I kind of like it. Others are turned off by the mushy noodles and/or little pieces of petrified meat and limp vegetables that result when you cook soup long enough for it to be absorbed by rice.
However, the pièce de résistance of my culinary career was my microwave meatballs. I made a big mistake: I believed that it was possible for someone like me to cook meatballs from scratch in a microwave. This resulted in several small, hard, round balls that were once meat, which would have made great ping pong balls. I’m sure they would have bounced if I had dropped them. David could have killed Goliath with one of those, or at least played a good game of squash.
Some of us were meant to be cooks and some of us were meant to be eaters. I think I know where I belong.
*You don’t have to cook hummus. You buy hummus. And it tastes good.