Dear loved one,
I’ve dedicated myself to cooking your dinners for over a decade. Sometimes slow-cooked, oftentimes quickly cooked, but nearly always home-cooked — none of this pre-made junk.
You know those mad half-day cook-a-thons i have in the kitchen on many a Sunday arvo? When every pan in the house gets used and i multi-task between making three or four bulk-sized meals, barefoot and with a beer in hand. That’s where many of those dinners are spawned — then packed up in the freezer for an easy week-night meal.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten that meal you made me, the one about four years ago — seared scallops that you were taught to make on a blokes’ BBQ cooking class i enrolled you in. It was really nice. I remember that i prepared the marinade for the scallops and the dressing for the accompanying spinach, pumpkin and pinenut salad — and that you barbecued the scallops and the pumpkin. You did a good job, or half a job — part of a job actually, the man part.
Just so you know, i could paint my toenails on those Sunday afternoons, or go on shopping sprees. I could bludge about and read a book, or just drink beer minus the kitchen chaotics. But that’s not how our household functions. I work evenings (and need a meal that is easily transportable and edible in front of a computer), and you need feeding, so meals have to be prepared in advance. Besides, i quite enjoy the kitchen therapeutics in my largely desk-bound life.
And that’s what cooking enthusiasts do for loved ones: they cook for them, feed them, nuture them. They pack the freezer full of containers of home-made food, labelled and marked with little love hearts and smiley faces, before they embark on a work trip.
We don’t expect much in return. Certainly not a reciprocated meal — we know that’d be too much to ask. Only thanks. Maybe a text from you in the living room to me at my office desk saying: ‘Just had the spag bol. It was awesome. The hint of orange zest was a genius touch.’
If you want to criticise a dish, perhaps sugarcoat it with a little praise first. The other thing that would help is if you didn’t get too demanding about the ready-to-eat meals that i leave for you — unless you want to muck in and help.
I understand you’ve had your fill of curries and tagines — the type of one-bowl meals that are easy for me to take to and eat at work. You say you want to eat healthier things like skewers and schnitzels and marinated meats that can be grilled and partnered with veggies and salad. But i can’t grill skewers and schnitzels and chicken breasts at work, so what we’re talking about here are two different meals: your meal, and my meal, and we both know who’d be responsible for each.
Do you see where i’m going with this? Do you understand why i sound a little cheesed off?
Take last Sunday evening when i was on the couch tapping out a restaurant review on the laptop for a local food guide, while simultaneously becoming hooked to new series of The Voice. In every ad break i ran into the kitchen to thread chunks of chicken — cajun spiced, no less — on to wooden skewers that i’d thoughtfully soaked in water beforehand so they wouldn’t burn when you grilled them for dinner one night that week.
How were those skewers? I wouldn’t have a clue. I couldn’t take them to work to grill for my dinner. And you didn’t mention them.
Maybe when you’re eating schnitzel tonight — the chicken breast that i pounded to suitable thinness, dipped into the last organic egg from the henhouse, and coated in the sourdough breadcrumbs made from the leftover loaf i baked, all of which i did before i left for my evening shift — you’ll remember to send a text to me at work and say: ‘thanks, you’re awesome”.