It is all your fault, Marilyn.
If you hadn’t invited us over to your lovely home (complete with dream kitchen) and made a splendid meal, simple yet elegant, I wouldn’t be doing this now.
Graduate school was good for me in many ways, but the time it greedily consumed kept me out of the kitchen for a couple of years at least (all told), and got me out of the habit I’d cultivated, especially while living in Germany, of thoroughly enjoying both the process and the results of cooking a meal.
Now, in Stuttgart, I had company. Six of us international students got together and made meals, every Saturday night, and we took turns collectively providing each other enjoyment and, well, nourishment. One week I and the other two women did the food, the next week the three men did; whoever didn’t do food brought wine.
The problem coming back to the U.S. from this relative Eden was living alone. It’s much more difficult to arrange these things for a table of one, when you’re quite used to serving and seating six. Joel soon joined the party, however, so that number expanded to two, and I generally got back into what I call survival cooking, and only truly relishing all sides of the culinary experience when I made meals for special occasions.
I’m not sure if pregnancy hormones are playing a role here, or if recent changes in Joel’s employment status are completely responsible for me re-adopting the food frugality I learned from my grandmothers (both children during the Depression), or if awareness of the food shortages plaguing so many areas of the world aren’t simply making me more mindful of, grateful of, and conscientious with the bounty we can truly enjoy here, especially at the beginning of the local producing season. No matter the reason, cooking virtually every meal at home has become one of my top priorities.
The effort I put into enjoying that process is, however, as I detailed above, entirely Marilyn’s fault. Sharing a leisurely meal with her and her family reminded me just how much I delight in culinary undertakings, from start to finish, and that it was worth investing time and mental energy into preparing and enjoying good food.
I’m also, very occasionally, taking pictures of what I make. A post is coming up (probably) on tonight’s experimental dessert: banana pecan bread pudding.
My creativity is coming back in the kitchen, and a heap of joy is following.