Sundays I cook. I did not grow up cooking -- no indeed. When I saw ovens, I thought of Sylvia Plath. (I was a precocious child.) Okay, that's a lie. The word "oven" though does have seriously creepy implications for me, even now. Too much Jewish schooling.
Last August, when Mr. Ben suggested this as our game plan to save money and efficiently use time, cooking every Sunday in bulk, for the week, was an intimidating chore. I mostly followed along what Mr. Ben did, chopped vegetables faithfully and mixed sauces, under a cloud of fear that I would somehow fuck everything up. It didn't help, perhaps, that this process began when Mr. Ben and I co-habitated in Apartment #1 with the Supremely Untalented, Touchy, Passive-Agressive 30-Year-Old Graduate Student in Art Therapy Who Hated Us for Unknown Reasons. Her omnipresent bad art made her presence inescapable, even when she herself was taking one of her endless, expensive, frequent and apparently ineffective hot baths. (She hated us just as much when she emerged, wrapped in one of her purple towels.)
Our adventures in cooking proceded apace while we lived under her gloomy, disatisfied eye, to be sure. We made two risotos and one my favorite dishes to date, a pasta with a carmelized onion sauce. But I could never really enjoy the process.
But Mr. Ben and I have moved on to Apartment #2, our very own small but noble studio, and gradually, now that I'm in a happier environment, Mollie Katzen and I have come to an understanding. She doesn't tell me to do anything too difficult -- she tells me everything slowly and calmly and as many times as I like -- and I don't disappoint her.
Over the past few weeks, Mr. Ben and I have succeeded in making Italian gratins, Sicilian stir-fries, sweet-and-sour tofu with cashews, tofu with black bean sauce (from fermented black beans, if you please: no ready-made sauces for us!), brocolli with spicy peanut sauce, and this week, eggless egg salad and sopa seca, a Mexican casserole-type dish whose name literally translates to "dry soup." It has put me over the moon. Maybe it's simply because I don't do much that I can be proud of anymore, but it feels thrilling to put something together that works. And I'm going to work myself into a self-approving lather over it, if that's okay with you.
It has taken me almost exactly a year to feel more or less confident and comfortable with the kitchen. That's a steep learning curve. Next time I challenge a deeply-seated notion about myself like I Can't Cook I'll try to halve the time it takes.
Meanwhile, I've been appointed Vice Mistress of the semi-weekly card game I attend with the aging bohemians; my brother's returned safely home from China leaving only three people I know currently there; and it's going to be August, which means soon I'll get to celebrate One Year as a Budding New Yorker.
The Many, Many Faces of Karl Urban
8 hours ago