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May 7, 2021

She Can’t Cook?

Learning to cook requires a unique kind of courage. But the time with family is one of life’s greatest treasures.

She can fly an airplane, but she can’t what?!

I’ll confess that I often look to movie stars to see what works and what doesn’t.

Sometimes their lives serve as example of what works. My husband and I took a class years ago based on the marriage vows recited by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. It was a great class. Their lives were a beautiful example of a long and lovely marriage.

I recently read an interview with a movie star who I really like. I think she’s a gifted producer, director and actor! (I won’t mention her name, but if you figure it out, I am OK with that.) She talked about how she was going to use the pandemic as an opportunity to learn how to cook, but then she decided not to learn.

She said that she knows her limits.

Cooking is a limit? Really? A limit?

I was stunned. Absolutely flabbergasted. Here is a woman who flies airplanes. Drives motorcycles. Goes in front of the paparazzi. Speaks as a voice for children and women around the globe. Is amazing in so many countless ways. And is limited by cooking?

And I have to admit that on some level I get it. Cooking is a very loving act. You put yourself out there and wait to see how someone you genuinely care about responds your effort.

I didn’t grow up in a family that cooked. My mom loved dining out, even at Thanksgiving. I don’t remember her loving to cook. My dad never cooked, not even cereal.

My son, 15 years ago, was a very picky eater. He ate about 10 different foods. I enrolled him in food therapy. (Yes, it exists.) My son and I had to cook together. I hated it when he cried about the food we made, but I didn’t take it personally. Food involves all your senses — even hearing. (I still can’t handle the sound of lobsters boiling.)

All the crying became worthwhile when he learned to love food. I can still remember leaving the room and jumping up and down when he ate a Rueben sandwich! (I tried not to overreact when he did or did not like a certain food.)

When I started to cook meal kits, I smoked out the entire kitchen every time I made dinner; this lasted for two weeks. I had no idea what I was doing wrong, but I think cooking requires an ease and enjoyment that I didn’t have. Plus, my daughter would say things like, “This is gross.” My son would cry and yell, “disgusting.”

Through it all, I persevered. I wanted to cook for my family.

Why? I wanted to go through the process of creating something that would physically nourish those I love. I hoped the result would be that our souls would be fed.

Now during this pandemic my daughter picks the meal kits, and we all take turns cooking. We like to create and practice flexibility. We always eat together.

So here’s my advice to the actress who I adore and anyone else who the thinks they can’t cook:

Begin with baking.

Bake for yourself. Make yourself cookies, cakes, sweets, anything that makes your dopamine surge.

Then get a meal kit and only feed yourself. Yes, eat the meal alone and in silence, maybe with some Mozart to keep you company.

Last step, when you feel you like cooking and it makes you happy, share it. Because sharing a meal isn’t just about eating, it’s about sharing time with those you love the most.


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