Tuesday, June 3, 2014

                                                         Cooking Is Overrated

      I don’t cook. Cooking to me is a major production that requires way too much time, effort, concentration and money. People look at me like I’m a traitor when I say “I don’t cook.” I never knew that it was un-American not to cook, and I’ve looked high and low in the anals of American history to find someone who says not cooking is un-American. All this begs the question, “What is cooking?” 

     Cooking, to me, is having a recipe in front of you from which you prepare a given dish. Recipes require research and reading--two things I no longer feel obligated to do now that I have a Masters degree and a library of well over 374 paperback books--all of which I read before 1966---before I was forced to face the daunting task of cooking. In those days, husbands assumed that their wives would cook. Who knew?

     If you’ve been on a diet like I have since 1949, eating has been on the “no-no” list, so why would I want to spend time making food that I can’t eat? You might say, “Well, you can cook healthy food.” Guess what? Healthy food does not require cooking; it requires assembling and distributing. I am an assembler and distributor. What recipe is needed to put some beans in a steamer and turn on the burner? What recipe is needed to chop up a bunch of green leaves and fluff them around in a bowl? What recipe is needed to put a piece of fish on the grill? There is no reading, researching, concentrarion, time or effort necessary if you are an assembler; you simply assemble.

     People who eat healthy don’t indulge themselves in pastries, ice cream desserts, or pudding puffs. We eat fruit au naturel or we nibble on some fresh nuts or we chew on a fig. None of that sugar and fat for us--nossiree. No work, no effort, no cooking, and, of course, no baking.

     The problem is that when you invite people to a dinner party, they expect some level of cooking; assembling and distributing doesn’t cut it. So not cooking on a regular basis can be a problem when people expect some concoction that cost you $86 and had you slaving over a hot stove for six and a half hours. Needless to say, for us assemblers, this scenario provokes a certain degree of anxiety. So, the answer is simple: buy the food someone else has cooked, and pass it off as your own. Stores like Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods all offer casseroles and gourmet meals that may be picked up just an hour or so before guests arrive. As a veteran assembler, I simply take the already-prepared food out of the container, put it on a fancy serving dish, and smile as I distribute. Then I sing America the Beautiful, wipe my hands on my apron and sit down to take the first bite. Brilliant.