Home cooking

Relentless rain this week, and especially this weekend. It’s coming down hard, and in gusty conditions too.

So, cooped up at home, we decided to put our newfound cooking confidence to work. On Friday evening, while Jeff stirred up a storm making herb risotto, I baked some brownies with a caramel dark rum sauce. Saturday, Jeff cooked a chicken yoghurt salad while I baked arancini from the leftover risotto and whipped up a big dish of fritatta that we could have for breakfast over the next few days.

It was fun and fulfilling. To mess up the kitchen together, then turn out yummy food we would have been delighted to eat in any restaurant, over a beautiful bottle of wine.

Funny thing is, I would not have imagined myself enjoying cooking this much twenty years ago. Back then, home economics was a mandatory class at school – but just for the girls. The boys had to take a workshop class instead. I rebelled against that typecasting, and resolutely refused to apply myself in class. While the teacher showed us painstaking stitches to make vests and cushions, I tuned out. While she explained the science of cooking (actually that may have been a stretch; she was quite a lousy teacher at any rate), I stared out the window. It’s actually quite tiring to consciously try to not pay attention, but I was angry. Why couldn’t girls be allowed to do workshop, and boys made to learn how to sew and cook as well? What century were we in?

I deliberately did not study for those exams, and convinced my otherwise stereotypical A-grade-is-the-only-acceptable-grade parents to overlook my failing grade. Haha. I think I even wrote letters to petition the principal. Nothing changed in my year (they finally took to the times two years later, and my brother got to enjoy both the workshop and home economics classes), and all I got to show for it was my obstinacy and deplorable sewing skills. I didn’t mind cooking secretly, just hated the typecast that girls had to learn these domesticated arts.

In the years since, I’ve had plenty of guy friends who have shown me how to properly wield knives, slowly braise beef in a rich and enticing tomato broth, and turn out the most glorious cakes and ice creams. And as Jeff and I got more interested in eating, we realized the way to better appreciate the complex flavours was to understand the science and art that goes behind the construction of the dishes. Moreover, one of our favorite activities was to host wine tasting parties with friends, and we quickly realized that money was better spent on the wines themselves, and that instead of buying good food to go with the wines, we could cook instead. To that end, our friends inspired us. Wine tasting parties turned out to be equally about the food – as well as the company and scintillating conversations that would stretch into the night.

So when I was telling my friend P about our cooking adventures for the weekend, and she teased me for becoming domesticated, I found that I didn’t quite mind. The connotations of the word may not be the most appealing to me, but if it means we can turn out delicious heartwarming food that makes people happy, it’s not a bad thing. 🙂

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