The “Joy” of Cooking

Now that I have more time on my hands, I have no excuse not to cook.

Except for one, and it’s pretty legit: I’m really, really bad at it.

When it comes to food, I’m a good-enoughist. I enjoy eating, but not as much as I enjoy reading and alphabetizing my book collection. I’d thus rather settle for a mediocre microwaveable dinner than spend time julienning carrots. Though I’m a little better on the bland front than I used to be, so are, luckily, the enabling manufacturers of the ready meals that keep me going. Frozen sustenance comes in an impressive variety these days; indeed, my usual rotation includes such full-flavoured dishes as shrimp whole-wheat pasta marinara and butter chicken.

To cut to the chase, as a result of my long-standing eating habits and prioritizing, I lack normal adult cooking skills.

Regardless, every so often I offer to prepare dinner for my husband. His eyes inevitably cloud over as he relives mushy, burned, and/or under-seasoned repasts past.

“It’s ok,” he says. “I can make something. What do you want?”

His reaction would be insulting if it weren’t warranted. Even the most revisionist of revisionists would have trouble denying this history.

Last week, however, I took matters into my own hands while my husband was out. There were chicken breasts in the fridge and a world of recipes on the internet. How hard could this be? Some people, I gather from representations on Netflix and in novels, use the stove on an almost daily basis. Shocking, I know. And so for the fourth time in our seven-year relationship, I cooked for my significant other.

It was really hard.

That said, I tackled the challenge wholeheartedly, making a tomatoey chicken thing that required me to zest a lemon and crumble feta cheese. I set the table and lit a candle. I was going to change out of my sweatpants, but by that point I had reached my limit.

The feeling elicited in me by the look on my husband’s face when he tasted my creation was, surprisingly, better than the pleasure I get from takeout sushi.

“This is actually good,” he remarked. “You know, you should cook again some time.”

I made this.
I made this. It looked better in person.

I waited until he took a second bite to decide whether or not he was joking.

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