So much of our day to day journey feels like we are at a crossroads. One emotion meets another; one understanding crosses another; and, so often, one plan runs headlong into another.
On my busiest days, I see a lot of crossroads. The problem, of course, arises when none of the intersections I cross have traffic lights. Then I am into damage control mode; trying to avoid an accident or to reduce the damage if one is inevitable.
Nowhere in my life is there a greater risk of an accident than in the kitchen. It is a place which is in every sense a crossroad. God-given skill, cooking experience and creativity all meet somewhere between the fridge and the stove. Unfortunately, I can now claim none of these three descriptors, except perhaps creativity in the way I adjust the settings on the toaster. I can show you that some time if you are interested.
History, however, will record that I was once fully able to cook for myself. I had an extended life as a bachelor, and taken together with The Joy of Cooking – a book purchased for me by my mother – I regularly put sustenance on my table, thank you very much. I even hosted the odd dinner party.
Odd is the operative word. While courting Brenda, I prepared a Shrove Tuesday pancake extravaganza for us, made only slightly less enjoyable by the half-package of cornstarch I added to the pancake batter (how was I to know it was only supposed to be a tea spoon?).
But good cooking days and rubber pancake days aside, it is all a distant memory. Given the significant risk I would now pose if wearing an apron a la cuisine, my family have devised a way to reduce that danger.
To begin with, they openly question my knowledge – or ignorance – about the ways of the kitchen. Last week I spent half an hour defending my claim that cooking and baking were the same thing. I can show you the definition of both terms I found online. At the end of our discussion, I did not understand their dismissive tone or their cynical laughter.
Next, my family schedules all of our meals so that it is strategically impossible for me to play any part in food preparation. If the Leafs had as effective a strategy, they would still be playing, but I digress and admit I may be stretching things a bit.
Finally, they physically restrict my access to the kitchen. They don’t allow me to enter, except of course to clean up.
So all in all you might think I am at a crossroads, culinarily speaking. But, really, I am not. My accidents there stretch far into the past. Fear not Gordon Ramsay!
June 17, 2013