Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sundays in the Kitchen: Navigating Toward the Heart Through the Stomach

Food is sexy.
Think about it: how does it feel to bite into a truly scrumptious dish? Do you sigh? Do you groan? Do you scrape every drop of sauce from your plate? When you’re done, how do you feel? Not just full, but satisfied. Maybe a little tired, even. Your eyelids droop, your tongue searches your lips for any lingering morsel.
But what about cooking?
I say cooking is sexy, too. It’s so sensual. Imagine the feeling of your hands punching down a ball of dough, the yeasty, sugary smell of it rising through the air. Imagine the heat of the oven, warming the kitchen air and the mouth-watering smell of bread baking. The sound of the crust crackling under your knife. And the taste, of course--the cook’s reward for all that foreplay--nothing can compare.
Cooking is, unfortunately, also very practical. It is that element of cooking that scares so many people away from it. In the kitchen, there are rights and wrongs. There are methods and measurements. A pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon can make or break a dish. Souffles collapse, cakes fall, steaks dry out. Cooking is as delicate and easily ruined as love itself. It takes time, care, and consideration.
So what better project could a husband and wife undertake?
Ian and I have been married for just over two years. We were very young when we made our vows--Ian was 24 and I was a rattle-shaking 22--and while we love each other like peas love carrots, we often find ourselves divided by schedules and interests. The one thing we both truly love to do is to eat.
A few months after the wedding, I discovered a passion and a talent for cooking. Ian has always expressed an interest in cooking, and after a hard day at the office, the dull metronome of a knife running through tomatoes has always seemed to soothe him. It has been, in a small way, a uniting force. Together, we enjoy the process of planning our meals and shopping for the groceries, the challenge of finding certain gourmet ingredients in the stores and farmers’ markets of the Palouse. The bulk of the cooking has always fallen to me, while Ian has become a master bargain-hunter and dishwasher. We’ve each gained and then lost about twenty pounds (my New Year’s resolution involved an exchange of olive oil for butter and chicken breasts for beef steaks).
Now, as we begin our third year of marriage, we have decided to undertake a project. We will both hone our cooking and--hopefully--communication skills. Every Sunday (or at least once a week), we will make time to cook a meal together. This is especially important for us now, as I will be heading off to grad school in Spokane, and we will only be together about half the week. I am hoping that these Sundays in the kitchen will help us remain close, even though we will so often be apart.
The project begins this Sunday.

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