Why do I cook?

This probably seems like the most no-brainer question in the world, but really it transfers to everything. All questions about anything can be summed up in one little question, I think–“Why?” I was thinking this yesterday amidst my Holiday Baking Extravaganza. I had rigged-up the laptop & speakers in the kitchen so I could watch a movie. By the way, I’m finally able to watch Julie & Julia again…I got the movie last year as a gift, then promptly loaned it to my parents, who promptly forgot that it was mine. I just got it back from my dad sans the case because he has recently organized his DVD collection (as in “You’ve got to look at this!!!”) into a binder and thrown out all the covers. I guess he forgot that Julie & Julia was my movie & not his despite the years that he’s held me accountable for anything borrowed with a note on the refrigerator and frequent reminders. But that’s beside the point.

Anyway, I was in the middle of my Holiday Baking Extravaganza, watching this great movie, amazed by the acumen of Amy Adams & Meryl Streep, when I asked myself, “Why do I cook?” Julia Child liked to eat. Julie liked to eat, but needed a project. Do I like to eat? Do I need a project? Do I just need to pass the time?

And as I’ve thought about this question more, it seems like so many other questions…why do people write? Why do people blog? Why do people study issues when they’re not required by a college class?

I realize that I cook for lots of reasons. I cook to escape…often from the pile of papers on my desk that my husband usually gets stuck sorting. I cook to escape the noisy banter of the kids. I cook to give myself a reason to be around the noisy banter of the kids and feel like I’m being WITH them. I cook to distract myself from the bigger problems in my life…the abyss of lesson planning and grading, the murky waters of student issues that never seem to clear, the cloudiness of my own soul. I cook to eat because I, myself, love to eat and love to eat really, really good food. And I don’t have the money (or live in a town with access) to eat really, really good food cooked by someone other than me.

I cook because I want to nurture the souls of others; to feel needed. I want the satisfaction of that one dinner every few weeks that elicits the real praise I’ve so craved in my life…”Oh, man, this is really good!” I cook because I want my kids to feel comforted and warmed around a table, to feel the steady rhythm life, of mealtimes and conversation, even if, at times, the conversation spins irreparably out of control.

I cook to fill some void in my childhood…the void other mothers filled in their warm kitchens evoking the sounds and smells of home, even if those homes had as much turmoil as mine. They had an allure. Those moms, my friends’ moms, taught me how to say, “Come, sit at my table, eat this food, be part of this family.”

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