I am watching Nigel Slater. He is showing me, in his slightly patronizing way, how to make speedy suppers for my family. I suspect he doesn’t have four children with countless activities to supervise, reading to listen to, homework to chivy along or musical instruments that need practising, thus freeing up plenty of his time to make rhubarb tarts with custardy cream for a mid week tea. I haven’t got a hope. It’s getting to the point that if there is something/anything on the table at 6.00 it’s a bit of a miracle.
But if I am honest, the main difficulty is not how busy I am. It’s my levels of enthusiasm. I have always loved cooking. I learned a lot at my mother’s knee and then developed a little skill and a lot of love for cooking over the following twenty years. I have a collection of recipe books to rival Nigella Lawson and they are all well thumbed with notes in the margins and pages stuck together with stray drops of sauce.
But when you have to cook for 6 every day and when 4 of those 6 have very fixed ideas about what they will or won’t eat, the joy of cooking kind of loses its sparkle. The same things get cooked week in week out and the dust settles on the books as cooking something for fun becomes a dimmer and dimmer memory.
And this is what all my female friends say to me. If only someone would tell me what to cook and then I could just do it.. they all moan. But with me it seems to be worse than that. I just can’t seem to muster any enthusiasm at all. I stand in the supermarket staring at the shelves and have absolutely no idea what to buy. There is nothing that I fancy eating let alone cooking. I suppose to cook something new requires thought, time and planning and then there is the crushing disappointment when more of it goes in the bin than is eaten. I think I shall make a deal with myself. Cook something new once a month and hope that some of the old enjoyment returns. Or perhaps I should teach the girls to cook and become an executive chef.
But then I also read that until the 1800s, cooking was the second most common cause of death amongst women after childbirth so perhaps I am right to give it a wide berth. A death in the kitchen would be so messy.