By KATE HUNTER.
‘Why don’t we cook dinner?’
Strange, I know, but those words do not bring joy to my heart when my kids or husband say them.
Not that they are bad cooks, or messy cooks – it’s just that of all the household chores that need doing, I enjoy cooking for my family. It’s the one I do well.
I’m a slackarse ironer. Mainly because I really, really hate it In fact, I outsource that job to my sister who loves it. It’s a bizarre trait she inherited from our father who also finds ironing satisfying, oddly meditative. They say it brings them peace – as though a crumpled shirt is somehow symbolic of a chaotic world, and the process of flattening it makes the feel a degree of control. Whatever. As long as my sister does my ironing (for a modest fee) I don’t really care what my crumpled clothes symbolize.
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Some people find cleaning bathrooms cathartic, hanging washing in the sunshine invigorating, polishing silver relaxing. I will not judge them. Even though I think they’re certifiable.
Cooking, however, is wonderful. It’s one of the few household jobs that’s creative and productive – it can be different each time you do it. You can’t say the same about cleaning the toilet. “Hmm, should I use the toilet duck or just a bit of bicarb and vinegar – just for a change?” said no one ever.
Similarly, no boy ever hugged his mum and said, “I’m so excited that you cleaned the loo today. You’re the best!”
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I thrive on praise and nothing elicits it like a properly roasted chicken.
I also like to eat. And if I’m going to eat I want it to be delicious. If I cook it, I’m in control of the deliciousness. I’m the best cook in the family, by a long shot, so why should I trust that chicken to someone else?
I know, I know, if I want others to do more, I need to do less. And if I never let anyone else near the kitchen, how will they improve?
The thing is, I don’t want them to improve. I am very happy in the kitchen and what would make me happier is knowing that while I’m making a proper ragu, someone is upstairs sorting the linen cupboard.
But they won’t, will they? It’s no fun and you can’t eat a pillowcase.
There are people to whom cooking is drudgery. But even they have to admit it’s more fun than laundry. If that wasn’t true, there would be reality shows about it, wouldn’t there? But I can’t see ‘Laundry Kings Of Los Angeles’ or ‘Ironing Maidens’ getting off the ground, can you?
There are also those who are all right about cooking, but will still say, ‘My favourite meal is one cooked by someone else.’
Mine too, as long as that someone else knows what they’re doing. At my place, the only one who can cook delicious food effortlessly, is me.
I will fight to keep it that way.
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Is there a household job you’d want to do, even if someone offered to do it for you?