First off, I don’t cook. I can make basic rice and pasta dishes and bake muffins and that is about it. Why? I have thought about that a lot during my life because I love food. I think part of it is because my mother was a housewife whose kitchen was the country she ruled. She hated anyone in her kitchen. She hated anyone even sitting chatting to her while she cooked. She hated it when people offered to help.
She was also a brilliant cook whose skills were famed far and wide. She used to send along with something edible every time I went to stay with someone, every time we visited anyone, every holiday and special day. People used to drool at the thought of her cookies and cakes. And her roasts were to die for. She did not use recipes but created her own dishes as she went.
When I was in my teens, she realized she was dying. She gave me her engagement ring because she wanted me to have it before she died. I still wear it every day. She also wrote down all her recipes for me in a book that our granny gave all the daughters in law one Christmas.
Over the years, I have asked friends and family to write their own favourite dishes in my recipe book. Most of them are in their own writing. Others have been written by me sitting at someone’s kitchen table having coffee and a chat after eating said delicious meal.
My recipe book is famous among friends and family who have borrowed it, photocopied it and cooked with it (hence the food stains on some of the pages). It has been with me wherever I have lived in the world. And for someone who does not cook, this is very very precious to me.
Another reason I have never really gotten into cooking is, I think, because I have always preferred to live alone and because I have had a demanding career with very long and very irregular hours. It has always been easy to come home and heat up something than spend ages cooking and washing up afterwards. I tend to buy salad and fresh cooked food from the supermarket on the way home, or have something in the freezer I can defrost late at night. Or I have muesli and yoghurt for supper!