Q&A – Why do you love cooking?

So we have both been sick or busy this week and unable to get on top of cooking from Food Safari, so we thought we’d have a little Q&A. We’ll do this from time to time when we’re pressed for cooking time. This week we’ll each explore why we love cooking and a bit of background that brought us to where we are now.

Delly says: I love food. Always have and always will. To be honest my deepest motivation for cooking is my constant yearning for something delicious. I recently spoke about my love of cooking as being based on “sheer piggery”. Sounds terrible when described as that – but it’s true. I love the final product that comes with cooking. I guess you could say that was the motivating factor when I was first allowed in the kitchen in my youth.

I often find myself thinking about food, the process and the end result. I’m excited when my cooking magazines (yes I seem to get a few of them) arrive in the mail. I devour each page and start noting which recipe I will cook in the coming days. I wouldn’t say I am obsessive but I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that food is my “thing”.

I have often watched Bells with curiosity as she has thrown herself into the wonderful world of knitting. I appreciate the fruits of her labour but I don’t really get the obsession (have I just lost most of our knitting readers??).  I have wondered whether I should find a hobby like knitting, needlepoint, patchwork… but they are not really me. I don’t think I have an eye for detail that some of those skills demand. However, upon reflection I have come to the conclusion that my passion lies with food (and so does my tastebuds!!)

I’m certainly no food snob, but I have noted amongst my friends that when food or cooking are mentioned my name quickly follows. Food and I are buddies. We walk together daily and consult each other regularly. It’s my thing and I’m happy we found each other.

The other reason I love cooking is the way it pleases those I love. There is nothing better than investing time in a preparing a meal and seeing the joy that comes from those who eat my creations. I guess it’s part of the joy of giving. One of my happiest moments is seeing my husband and son dive into a cake I have made, or devour my pancakes on a Saturday morning. And who can resist a gorgeous little six year old boy telling you at a restaurant that your homemade pizza is better than any other. Bliss!!!

So apart from the self-satisfying contentment that comes from preparing and eating my own creations, I love cooking for others. It’s my way of showing how much I care about them. It’s my gift to them.

So if I cook for you, watch out! I might like you!

* * * *

Bells says: I think it’s safe to say that growing up with Delly, anyone with eyes could see that one of us loved to cook and one of us didn’t. I was the one who didn’t.

I thought cooking was boring and not terribly creative. Oddly, I remember walking around the green grocer with Mum and trying to figure out what the ‘fancy’ fruit and veggies were. Eggplant amazed me. I couldn’t see why it was called eggplant when it was nothing like an egg. I’d pick up nobbly roots of ginger and wonder what on earth you did with them. In small town Australia in the 80s, I don’t imagine there was a lot of Asian cooking going on, except for the local chinese restaurant which served the usual sort of Australianised-chinese food, honey prawns, beef and black bean. I don’t remember any unusual vegetables.

I dabbled with little success in cake baking as a teenager, more because Delly did it and I wanted to try it out too. One particularly memorable failure was a cake made with cornflour! I swear it was on the cornflour packet! No one believes me. To this day my family laughs about a cake so awful not even our dog would do more than sniff it and walk away in search of something more appetising. Like her own vomit.

At uni, a friend at whose house I used to stay over a lot, gradually exposed me to cooking. I don’t think it was a deliberate education. It was just that she came from a family where food was a bit different to what I knew and I learned things. It was a revelation to me that you could take a can of tomatoes, some garlic (fresh stuff! Imagine!) and an onion and make a delicious pasta sauce. Before that, Adele and I had dined in my little flat on Paul Newman’s bottled sauce over shop bought tortellini. That seemed pretty fancy to us at the time. That you could make your own from three ingredients was a revelation to me

My first attempts at trying to embrace real cooking were funny in hindsight. Some friends came for dinner one evening, again in my little flat, and from a cookbook I chose a recipe for pesto. It was 1993. I had no idea what pesto was (perish the thought now!) and set about gathering the ingredients, even borrowing a blender to make it. The solid ball of green mush didn’t seem very appealing to me. Quite the opposite. But what did I know? Perhaps this was how it was supposed to be. My guests arrived and I dumped blobs, very solid blobs, through penne, or something like it. I can’t recall. My friends scoffed. They laughed and laughed. They all knew what pesto was supposed to be like – I was informed I should have added more oil, made it more of a sauce.

You live and learn. The pesto was remembered for many years.

My twenties were, on the whole, a wasteland of cooking. I had some desire. Just no drive to really explore or figure it out. Then I met my husband, and in my late twenties, something clicked. He took me on an early date for my first Thai meal. I ate Pad Thai for the first time and we talked about how he had a wok and how easy it was to use. I said I thought I could try this sort of thing. And I did. He set me loose in his tiny kitchen with a two burner gas camping stove and for seven years I cooked and I cooked. I turned my hand to anything I fancied cooking and he encouraged me. I discovered that food, and cooking it, is wonderfully creative, that it doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be done well, and with love and enthusiasm. That’s my motto even now and to this day my husband is still the person I most love to cook for, and eat with.

Looking back at me as a teenager, you’d never believe it would happen!

Delly & Bells

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. drkknits
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 15:26:56

    great insight guys, thanks for this! i love the way you have embraced cooking bells, when it didnt come naturally, and now look at you! i am starting to appreciate cooking much more for the process these days, and as a result my outcomes are much improved. something in that, i suspect!

    Reply

  2. 2paw
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 15:32:11

    ‘Sheer piggery’!! That’s so funny. I once made ANZACs with no sugar and porridge with the salt and sugar reversed-yuck!!! It is true that as children we pretty much ate three veg and meat but my dad’s time in the navy in the Far East gave him a few cooking ideas and he liked to make special meals for us. In fact my dad and I did most of the cooking- he did breakfasts and school lunch and I did tea once my mum went back to work. Food evokes such memories, the mere scent of it can transport me back to happier, or sadder , times. I love to cook for my friends and The Labradors too, and me of course!!

    Reply

  3. Rose Red
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 16:24:44

    I think it’s fair to say I love to bake, rather than cook. I like to cook, but I don’t love it like I do baking. It’s sheer piggery!! But it’s also fair to say I don’t love it as much as I do knitting!!

    I’ve always helped my mum bake – biscuits especially – but I quite got into microwave cupcakes in my teens – because you had to eat them hot or else they turned into little rocks. Instant gratification! I’m pleased I’ve moved on since then!

    Helen, I never knew about the cornflour cake. Or the pesto blobs. Heh heh. Can’t think of any cooking disasters of mine. I’ve buried them too deep in my subconscious I think!

    Reply

  4. David Hilyard
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 20:01:11

    This is a good read. And both of you get my main thought – that cooking is a wonderful way to share with others. I most like to cook for friends, lover, family. Cooking for one is dull by comparison.

    And it is a fundamental aspect of culture, isn’t it? Find out what a tribe do with a chook and you’ll learn a bit about that mob.

    Good work, Adele ‘n Helen!

    Reply

  5. Jodi
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 03:32:57

    I’m with Adele on the “sheer piggery” aspect and loved Helen’s tale of the pesto blob. I’m from a small town as well and find cooking something I’ve never had before to be a near impossibility. This is probably due to my inability to follow a recipe. I get distracted, wander off, come back and forget where I was in the process. What I DO love about cooking is re-creating things I’ve had in restaurants and loved. I like to try and identify flavors and magically recreate it at home. It’s never exact, but it is creative and fun. Maybe after 20 years of knitting, I’ll be able infuse some my own creativity in that arena. Fingers crossed!

    Reply

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