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Women are supposed to be good at cooking. Or, according to Pinterest, enjoy cooking and baking, and spend at least 22 hours a day thinking of new and innovative ways to make squash taste like steak and raisins taste like chocolate chips.
My grandma has asked how I ever intend on finding a man if I don’t cook. Luckily, every man I have ever dated either liked to cook, or pretended to because it was safer than forcing me to cook.
As a single mother, I am required to make food but my child and I are a simple duo -- we eat salads, veggies, avocados, pasta (and I don’t mean just Kraft mac n cheese or spaghetti), fish, rice, beans, eggs, yogurt, pizza -- basic, simple stuff that doesn’t require Pinterest or a degree in cooking. When we want sushi, we pay for it. We aren’t sitting in here trying to figure out how to make it from scratch.
Not only am I not good at cooking, I certainly don’t enjoy making tons of food for special events or other people. Family get-togethers like Christmas, which require me to act like a normal part of the family, mean I am automatically assigned Veggie Tray. In case you aren’t familiar with the secret recipe for Veggie Tray -– it’s carrots, celery, dill pickles, sweet pickles, red or yellow peppers, black olives, and Ranch dressing from the bottle dumped into the Veggie Dip section of the magic Veggie Tray.
If I need to bring two items to the get-together I am also assigned buns, which are almost always the warmed up Hawaiian buns filled with good butter (you know what good butter is) or dessert which is almost always a pie purchased from Perkins (except the one time I tried a no-bake Oreo pie that ended up as pudding with crust). Basically, I am not cooking anything.
For some reason, however, the rest of the world assumes I like to cook and bake and that I am here to participate in their food-bringing activities. One of the last office jobs I worked at loved to hold huge, “fun” corporate-sized potlucks where entire teams were assigned a certain type of food. Like, excuse me, big corporation, but you’re not doing us any favors by making us slave all night to create 50 servings of something edible and then allowing us to eat whatever we slaved all night over at a work function where we probably already spend way too much time anyway.
Where are they teaching management teams that this is some kind of privilege, incentive, or special reward, and why can’t you just give us a Panera gift card, instead?
The first time I experienced the word potluck my team was assigned appetizers or some ridiculous part of the potluck that I don’t remember because all I thought was, “I don’t have time for this.” A co-worker offered to make something for people (me) who wanted to give her money instead of baking or cooking.
Obviously, I paid her and although she ended up bringing 50 pickles wrapped in bologna and I felt totally hoodwinked, that $10 or $15 I paid her was worth every penny of not having to think of something to bring, drive to the grocery store, wrap and make that crap, and tote it all into work at 7 AM, by myself. Plus, when people said, “Who the hell brought pickles wrapped in bologna?” it was me, but it wasn’t really me.
Most recently, I received this text from my daughter’s basketball coach:
“By the way, we need every parent to bring in baked goods to sell at the basketball game, Saturday. Wrap them individually in saran wrap so they can be sold for 50 cents each.”
OK but isn’t that why they sell tacos in a bag and Laffy Taffy? I immediately consulted Facebook and asked how many Oreos I could sell for 50 cents, and if wrapping and selling individual Oreos was even acceptable. Most of my friends and family know baking isn’t my thing and suggested frozen break-apart cookies (brilliant), while others advised me to go ahead and wrap the Oreos up and sell them for up to a dollar each (probably shouldn’t trust those friends).
I don’t like cookies made by strangers, anyway. I’ve tried cookies at these things and twice -- including once at Legion Bingo where old people cookies are supposed to be safe -- I bit into cookies with hair in them. So not only am I totally against forcing people to provide food for these events, I am leery about eating things made by some of the fools that bring it in. You know there’s someone at your job, your church, or your kids’ school that you DO NOT want bringing anything they made with their own two hands. Hell, maybe I’m that person but it isn’t like you can say, “Hey! Everyone except the Asian chick in Legal has to cook something for tomorrow…”
I can’t be the only woman, parent, or being on Earth that thinks we should totally move past requiring baking and cooking as some part of group or togetherness activity. I know some of you take pride in your cooking skills –- save that for your family members or your men. I’ve heard they like that type of thing. But, please -- stop forcing the rest of us fun-haters to cook and bake for you. It’s really best for everyone involved that we don’t.