How to Eat (Without having to read or prepare a single thing from Nigella Lawson's cookbook by the same title.)

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I can’t cook, therefore I don’t.

But with that endless and foolish optimism only experienced during one’s youth, I've always thought that, just because I'm a girl and it's supposed to be in our genetic makeup, I'd somehow grow into the ability (and into some boobs, while I was at it), just like my mom and all three of my older sisters did. That one day I would wake up and voila, I'd also be a gourmet chef, because that is supposed to be the natural order of things, right?

I've certainly done my bit by enlisting some assistance along the way in the form of buying Cooking for Dummies, proudly displaying it in the coffee maker's private quarters (that room which, in normal homes, is better known as the "kitchen."). I’ve even stared at the book intently for days whilst sipping my coffee, patiently waiting for all that printed knowledge to jump into my head through sheer osmosis.

Nothing. To this day. (Except for the boobs. They arrived in all their gory DD* glory overnight some time between my seventeenth and eighteenth year.)

Granted, it probably would've helped if I had opened the Dummies book at least once, but let's not get bogged down by too many technicalities, okay?

So the only growing I've done on the food front thus far has occurred sideways, I'm afraid.

Luckily the boy caught on quickly about my lack of domestic skills. (Read: After starving for a year he lost all hope and dragged his carcass out the door and to the store.) He bought a grill and for a summer we devoured a carnivorous diet that would've put even the late Dr. Atkins to shame... Unfortunately winter struck again as it tends to do, and we were once again left with the hearty pickings offered by America's fast food industry.

And because I grew up in South Afica where we were taught to eat everything on our plates, I ate on behalf of the entire continent of Africa... until last night.

You see, I have a friend who totally lucked out when she stood in line to receive the cooking gene. Whoever was dishing up that day was probably the same person who went on to design portion sizes in the U.S., because my friend certainly received more than her share of culinary talent. (In fact, I think I’ve finally figured out who got MY portion!)

People like her who have been blessed with the cooking chromosome to this freakish extent are hard to come by in real life, because most of them are already famous and don’t mingle with the masses except for maybe once a year when they stoop down from culinary heaven to promote and autograph their new television specials and cookbooks.

Cookbooks written not so much to disclose any of their secret recipes as to taunt their adoring fans with. If one actually manages to read the recipes in said cookbooks, look between the lines and learn that words like “fast, simple, and easier to prepare than opening a can!” actually means “dare to try THIS you suckers, and your pathetic little inner che… I mean, common cook, will be forever destroyed, MMWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”

Yes, beware… the apocalypse of many an amateur chef lurks in the pages of a Lagasse, Child, Puck, and Lawson.

I suppose I’m lucky then that my friend has thus far remained undiscovered. Because not only do we get to attend her infamous dinner parties, but most of her recipes are in her head, leaving the rest of us blissfully unable to attempt recreating the complicated concoctions, thereby sparing us from certain humiliation and potential kitchen infernos.

So a week ago, as I was lamenting my “mysterious” weight gain to her while grazing on my staple of grease and "McDoodad’s" fries, and she was melancholic over how she’s unable to leave the corporate world right now to live out her dream of owning a restaurant, something brilliant clicked and she made us an irresistible offer: for the same amount we spend on a typical take-out meal, she will cook for us instead!

Believe me, for her cooking, that price is an absolute BARGAIN.

So last night, we received our first taste of divinity: generous portions of spaghetti and meatballs in a special sauce that would even have Rocco’s Mama salivating, with flavorful steamed veggies on the side to ward off the scurvy.

My nutrient deprived senses, dulled from so many years of junk overload, were revived instantly.

And what do you know: I’m convinced I’ve already lost a full two ounces!

I foresee a raise in her future and leftovers for lunch in mine.

* DD: Never spoil a good story with facts.

7 Comments

Alex. said:

Soundsl ike a great bargain to me! Wish she were into shipping food overseas! I too lack the cooking gene.

DD... Facts, schmacts!

kdeweb said:

now that is an offer you can't possibly refuse! someone cooks beautiful homemade meals for you and you don't have to wash a dish?! that is simply heavenly.

Zinke said:

Oh, you are so LUCKY!!! I used to cook (Grill) at home alot, but recently, I've been so busy with work and travel. I usually opt for a sandwich; but my roommate and I are looming in the dark fast food abyss. I know the effects of eating at McD's, Wendy's, Burger King or Jack in the Box everyday. (Kids don’t try this at home.)
You are so Lucky!!! (Smart and Healthy!)

“Look at the Big Brain on Red!”

kellen said:

i am only very recently learning to cook for real. growing up in an old yankee house meant everything was cooked until it had the taste of an old sock and the consistency of shoe leather. when i moved out, i found out that there was actually good food out there! and, as someone who once worked for a stint at a "mcdoodads", i really wouldn't recommend eating it very often. :)

Linda said:

I love to cook and my husband loves to cook, and we both do it well, but as time goes on, neither one of us really WANT to cook. You are very lucky indeed!

martha said:

I love cooking... and I don't even mind doing dishes but don't like doing both in one evening all the time. My partner HATES hates hates doing dishes. Think we could get as lucky and find someone to do our dishes?



















about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • martha : I love cooking... and I don't even mind doing dishes but don't like doing both in one evening all th... [go]
  • Linda : I love to cook and my husband loves to cook, and we both do it well, but as time goes on, neither on... [go]
  • kellen : i am only very recently learning to cook for real. growing up in an old yankee house meant everythin... [go]
  • Zinke : Oh, you are so LUCKY!!! I used to cook (Grill) at home alot, but recently, I've been so busy with w... [go]
  • kdeweb : now that is an offer you can't possibly refuse! someone cooks beautiful homemade meals for you and ... [go]
  • :: jozjozjoz :: : DD... Facts, schmacts!... [go]
  • Alex. : Soundsl ike a great bargain to me! Wish she were into shipping food overseas! I too lack the cooking... [go]
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