Our topic this week is “in the kitchen,” but to be honest, my best relationship with the kitchen is one where I wander through to get the portable phone to place a delivery order for Chinese food. Or I dash in, pour myself a glass of wine, and dash out before the kitchen knows I’m there.
For someone with such a healthy interest in eating, I have an underdeveloped interest in the culinary arts. I’ve heard that, traditionally, chefs were men, and when you think of all the chopping, mashing, and setting things on fire that are involved, it kind of makes sense. It’s certainly how things work in my house, anyway. The husb is the cooker, and I am the cleaner.
(Of course, on those rare occasions I do cook something—which only happens when a specific recipe catches my fancy—I somehow also find myself being the cleaner.)
It’s not that I don’t have a fairly solid foundation. As a child, I had to cook dinner for my family once a week. My mother and stepmother are both talented cooks (and my father can barbecue like a champ). When my friends and I moved to California, we had weekly “family dinners,” and it wasn’t unusual to spend a whole Sunday in the kitchen, preparing your dish—often basically from scratch. And, like I said, I am a big proponent of good cooking when I’m on the consuming side of things.
So why has cookery become a lost art in my life?
If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because I’ve found so many other arts to occupy my time. If I’m not writing, I’m quilting. If I’m not quilting, I’m reading a book, or blogging, or working on my website. If I’m not doing that, it’s laundry, or working out, or tidying up, or spending quality time with TiVo.
At some point, you start to feel like one of those kids whose parents force them to take piano lessons, ballet, soccer, basketball, pottery, karate, and ballroom dance. And something’s gotta give.
So in my life, my relationship with the pots and pans and sea salt and extra virgin olive oil was the first thing to go.
If I weren’t married to a man with significant skills in the culinary realm, I might have had to make time for cooking. But as it is, I read debut novels, not cookbooks, and I slice and dice and chop and mash words instead of vegetables.
I think one of the hardest things about writing is finding that you have to juggle your priorities a little. And often, giving themselves permission to underperform in one area makes people uncomfortable. But for me (and a lot of us, I suspect), balance is a crucial ingredient of the writing life.
Speaking of that, I’m smack in the middle of cooking up a work in progress, so I’d better get going before it reduces to nothing!
PS – Have you seen the Bad Girls Don’t Die book trailer yet?