It’s no secret. I’ve all but stopped cooking these past few months. With essentially two full-time jobs, a blog, a bustling social life, food events and a myriad of other responsibilities, I can’t seem to find the time. Unlike others who try to avoid cooking dinner, I look for every opportunity. But I have almost forgotten what it feels like to leisurely cook a meal. When I do get the opportunity to cook I’m usually standing in the grocery store last minute, scrambling to pull together ingredients for something I can make quickly.
Then the other day I had the opportunity to work from home as I once did. As in years past, I pulled out a couple cookbooks and thought about what I would make. The process was so distant, yet familiar. I wanted to make something special for Andy. I settled on a modified version of Jean Anderson’s Hungarian Goulash with mashed potatoes and green beans.
“Sometimes you can buy a little love. Not with money, but with food, because food is what makes people feel they’re being heard, being loved.”
Reading her words made me stop for a moment and consider my own motivation to cook. I love the meditative process of mincing, cutting, chopping, stirring, especially when it’s a slow process with wine glass in hand. And then tasting, stirring, adding – smiling to myself when I get the taste just right. But I realized that I always cook for Andy’s reaction. You know how they say people dress for someone? Like a lot of people, I cook for someone. I cook for that moment he takes the first bite. Unlike me he hasn’t tasted as he cooks , so the taste is a surprise, in a nanosecond I can tell if this is a dish I’ll make just once or again and again.
Andy has always been so good at praising my cooking. Even in the early days of our marriage when I served pork chops that were burned on the outside and raw on the inside or the night of the infamous “dog food chili’ incident. And what I’ve come to realize is that Andy’s praise is not tied to the goodness of taste, it’s a genuine gratitude for the time and effort I have put into cooking. He will tell me many times throughout the meal how good it tastes and why. Even if it’s not my best meal, he still says he appreciates that I made it. But it’s not the praise I love. I love to nourish him at the end of a long day with home-cooked food. It’s one of the many ways I show him how much I love him.
So as our schedule becomes more chaotic and the pace becomes more frenetic, I have to remember that look on Andy’s face. They say you make time for what’s important. That look on his face, the gratitude that I care enough to make him dinner, that’s important.