I have never desired to be a culinary goddess. In fact, I remember at the ripe old age of nine, my father calling me to help my Mum in the kitchen. I wasn’t averse to helping her, but wondered why he hadn’t asked my brother, who was older and probably closer to hand. In a benign manner he, I can now see in retrospect, replied:
“Ah-ah, who will marry you if you can’t cook?”
Indignation flared instantaneously and my stubborn nature shot back, quick as:
“Well fine. I won’t get married then. Why shouldn’t my husband cook for me?”
Suffice to say I spent a good seven years refusing to help in the kitchen. I didn’t mind washing up, and of course I watched how my mother was cooking and more importantly what, but I didn’t offer my services. When I was roped in as part of my familial duty I did it, but I didn’t love it, like my sister. My culinary standard became – is it edible? Yes? Then that’s fine. And edible can have a range of qualities…
However now at University, without a microwave and a finite budget it is suprising how expensive food is. A loaf of bread, which I could easily devour in three days, sells for £1 or so, whilst plain white flour is only 69p. So, I decided to turn my hand to some culinary delights.
Now whilst my African dishes are way below par, and I have sadly been forced to feed some friends some poorly cooked jollof rice (I blame the basmati), i’ve learnt that what makes Mama’s dishes so sweet isn’t really the scotch bonnet or caramelised onions, but it’s that she cooks with love. Sure, sometimes it’s a duty and a hassle, but it’s something she does for her family out of love.
Being now a near expert bread maker, i’ve made two perfect loaves of white bread and a loaf of wholemeal brown for a friend in just over 72 hour; and trust me they are gooood, I’m currently sitting whilst I make chicken, mushroom and potato soup, for myself and anyone who wants to come by and get blessed. And I’ve realised, cooking can be such an act of love, joy and service.
I absolutely expect my husband to cook for me and our family, just as I absolutely (she says tihs now whilst unmarried and highly romantic), will cook for my family, but not because i’m a woman, but because when I make things, I want to make them for you, with love.
So go, be adventurous and try your hand at making something. Maybe you’ll never get your dough to rise, but you could be an incredible pastry maker.