I'll Try Anything Once: Cooking

You thought you wanted me to make dinner, but you had no idea.
Publish date:
April 25, 2012
cooking, food, i'll try anything once, bad cook

Not cooking -- I'm good at this.

I don't cook. Ever.

You may know this if you read my xoJane article entitled, "I Don't Cook, Ever." Let me recap for you: Cooking is boring as hell, it takes too long, I don't like putting my hands in gross stuff, I look cute in an apron. Cool? Cool.

Except not cool, because some of you are still all up on my jock to just give it a freaking try. Cook, cook, COOK, you shriek, like a bunch of culinary harpies. And that's sexist, because nobody ever calls men harpies, but there you have it. You guys made me sexist.

Anyway, I decided to give the whole cooking thing another shot, if only to appease you'll stop endlessly badgering me like you're on your periods or something. This is why a woman can't be president! (OK, I'm done now.)

My original idea was to do the cooking for a week, but when I started looking at recipes, I felt all empty and dead inside, like I was teetering on the precipice of an endless void, so I decided to start with one night.

"I'm making you dinner!" I announced proudly to my skeptical fiance.

See, I'm sort of the dude in our household. Like, if he leaves me alone for the weekend, he comes home to find me with like, a diaper on my head while some toast burns, a phone rings, and a goat wanders through the kitchen. So when it comes to dinner preparation, he is the kitchen boss and I am the kitchen employee. I am willing to assist, but I need to be told step by step what to do, so that I am essentially just an extra pair of hands, the mechanical suit to his Krang.

But this time I wanted to really cook something totally for myself -- to look at a recipe and execute it from start to finish without any kitchen micro-management. I decided to make oven fried chicken, which I found in my twee thrift store cookbook, right beside Pink Salmon Loaf and other weird stuff they made in olden times.

A country chicken dinner

I insisted that it was cheating for Pete to offer assistance of any kind, so instead he pulled up a chair in the kitchen and literally watched me like I was TV. And I had all my clothes on and everything, so it wasn't as erotic as it sounds.

He did manage to skirt the rules by loudy informing the cat when I was about to make a mistake, like: "So Jimbo, did you know that the best way to cook the chicken is skin-side down? Isn't that interesting?"

Still, all was going fairly well until I splashed raw chicken water on some rubber gloves, then, in an effort to move them out of the way, placed them on the dish rack full of clean dishes and bottles. This was the first time we had a fight while I was cooking. I thought this article was going to be called "I Tried to Make Dinner and the Engagement is Off."

Cooking. I am not good at this.

But seriously, I had no idea that raw chicken was basically a death weapon! How are you supposed to know these things? Are we all tiptoeing on the cliff's edge of death every time we turn on the oven? And why the hell do we even eat chicken if it's so dangerous? We don't eat poisonous spiders and cancer.

You guys, it only got worse. I nearly dropped a dish full of hot butter. I knocked a picture off the wall. I forgot to move the oven rack and then stood there with a dumb look on my face trying to figure out the best way to move it while Pete yelled, "Close the oven door! You lose like 100 degrees every time you do that!"At one point, I literally broke down and sobbed for 10 straight minutes. I'm going to guess we had a total of 3 serious fights. I seriously think I may have gotten out of cooking for life, just by sheer force of being so horrible at it.

To be fair, the end product was actually great. But the process was a total nightmare. Maybe it doesn't sound that bad in the telling, but afterward I found myself muttering, "That was horrible...horrible" over and over while we ate, like I'd just come back from 'Nam.

"God, I am really comically bad at cooking," I remarked after we both had some time to reflect.

"It's not that comical," Pete responded, grim-faced. Oh.

Before the experiment, he had admitted that while he likes cooking, it would be nice for me to learn how and shoulder some of the responsibility for food preparation. After the experiment, he basically declared me a lost cause, even when I said I would probably improve with practice.

"I don't know if you would," he countered. "It's ... jawdropping." I mentally decided to reuse this quote later, but in an ambigious way, like maybe my cooking is jaw-dropping...ly delicious!

"But I thought you wanted me to learn!" I responded.

It would be great if you could, but you can't," he said, adding, "but I love you and I will gladly make you dinner every night for the rest of your life." So, you know, score.

So like at the end of all great "I'll Try Anything Once"s, I learned a valuable lesson about myself: I never want to cook anything ever fucking again. I know some of you will still try to convert me. In fact, this morning, Corynne was already like, "Nooooo! You just need practice!"

But you know what? It's OK to not be good at cooking. And I'm not. I'm a no-good, terrible, very bad cook. So what? I do a lot of stuff in life; I don't have to be some master chef, too. I'm sure I could improve, but I don't want to, because I hate it. I hate cooking so much. I know a lot of people find it relaxing and rewarding; I don't. So I'm not doing it any more. Because I don't have to. Everybody just leave me alone.