Things I Do To Stay Sane: Learn Cooking


So, lately the significant other and I have been trying this new thing where every weekend I go to his place and we learn to cook something new. Because neither of us really know how to do things slowly, that’s actually translated into us making at least two new things every weekend, which makes for a very busy and very messy kitchen.

And I’m loving it! (This coming from someone who normally hates mess and has a bit of a problem with doing ‘new’ things of any sort). I come from a very steak-and-potatoes family. We were never that into spices, never did much deviation with recipes, and maybe ate from a full menu of around twenty items. I’m mainly to blame for that, considering the tantrums I’d throw if my Mum so much as hinted at making me try new foods. Monkey, on the other hand, comes from a rather large family that likes cooking all kinds of stuff, cooking all the time, and using spices that I’ve never even heard the name of before getting into this relationship.

It’s been quite the learning experience, having two people with wildly different tastes in food and different ideologies about cooking trying to create new dishes together. To date, we’ve made mulled wine, Irish apple cake, fried potato chips, french fries, Sheperd’s Pie, bacon and potato cakes, and red velvet pancakes. Doing so, we’ve cut down on the amount of money we’ve spent each weekend going out for food, I’ve been losing weight while still eating delicious food, and we’ve increased the amount of time that we spend genuinely talking to each other and learning about each other’s likes and dislikes.

Food, for me, has always been this kind of inconvenience. I don’t feel hungry often at all, but I need to eat or else I’ll pass out. It has enabled me to gain nearly thirty/forty pounds of trauma weight. It makes me sick on occasion if I eat something slightly wrong, or at the wrong time, or with the wrong things, since my insides are stupid sensitive. So this whole phenomenon of cooking food, trying new foods and enjoying the process, is new.

Part of that is Monkey. I enjoy being with him, I enjoy being around him and I am amazed by how much he can surprise me in the littlest ways two and a half years into this relationship. I could probably watch paint dry with him and still be amused somehow. (Don’t take that as an idea, love, it’s an exaggeration).

Part of that is the fact that I’m learning more about myself in this process too. I’d always kind of stuck to my old favorite foods the way that I stick to my routines. They are safe, I know they won’t bother me or trigger my disgust and stress me out. But in the past couple years of pushing the boundaries of what I can know about myself, both through research and through contemplative prayer, I am learning what new things I can broaden my horizons with. New foods may seem like a small thing to the average reader, but for me, it’s a big deal. I’m able to more correctly discern what kind of foods are less likely to be the wrong texture, or hurt my sensitive insides: Instead of walling myself off from new experiences, I am able to safely and comfortably branch out, one little step at a time.

Which, as a writer, I think is one of the most beneficial things about learning to cook with Monkey. Any opportunity that I get to learn more about myself, is an opportunity for me to better understand how I can best contribute to the world around me, whether that’s with my art, with how I should be focusing my observations, or in how I behave in everyday life. And doing it through the process of cooking and learning to cook, helps me to learn about myself while still progressing forward. While therapy and self-care ‘treating yourself’ is all well and good, a lot of times I believe it can lead to stagnation. Cooking new things helps me build up my skill set, helps me find new ways to show my care for others, or treat myself with healthier foods, and helps me learn how best to compliment my own taste with my significant other’s.

What opportunities have you taken lately to learn yourself in less-than-conventional ways?

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