I am not the least bit shy about declaring my lustful, passionate, sometimes borderline obsessive, crushes on guys. In my Delicious Life, it’s usually with chefs, most notably sweet, lovable, all-American Tyler Florence and speed-talking, swearing, smoking badass Tony Bourdain. Yes, yes, I know that aside from the fact that both can cook, they are two totally different types, so you may wonder how I could love them both. *sigh* I will have to save my thoughts on the whole misconception of “my type” and “your type” for another episode because it require more than a couple of pragraphs. For now, it’s enough to say that I can’t help developing these crushes, and I certainly can’t hold it in. If I did, I’d probably overheat and explode.
But as with any matter that involves the female heart, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. I fawn, I pine, I fantasize. I dream about the perfect romantic dinner date with Tyler or the wild night of debaucherous fun with Tony, and yet... If ever Tyler Florence were to actually show up on my doorstep with a whisk, a pint of whipping cream and wearing nothing but an apron, I think I might giggle, blush, then slam the door in his adorable Southern face.
I think I am in love...with being in love.
If not being able to express my infatuation would cause me to explode, then my fantasies becoming reality might cause me to implode. I love... unrequited love. I am not sure why, and let’s not get into another one of my secret high school crushes, which until today, I never admitted to anyone because one of my better friends laid first-claim to him by “calling” her love for him first. David was a dark, moody, brooding guitarist who only ever listened to Aerosmith and the Replacements. *sigh*
Where was I? Snap out of it, girl! Right. I fantasize about guys, things, jobs, situations, and I think in my head, I totally romanticize. However, I have come to realize that though I fantasize about tall, dark and handsome who cooks, the reality is, I could never be with someone who cooks. (Tall dark and handsome, though, is still in the running).
Don’t be offended if you are man who cooks, and even moreso a man who cooks well. I admire you. I adore you. I’d probably fantasize about you, too, if I knew who you were. But I must do it from afar. When it comes down to it, I am an egoiste. I am selfish. I am competitive. I work alone. I simply cannot bear the thought of a man, or anyone else for that matter, being in the kitchen with me. It throws me off. I bump into things and can’t remember if I added the baking powder or not. I get cranky. It’s sort of like the opposite of ADD. Narrowly focused? Something like that.
But Sarah, it’s so much fun to cook together! Cooking and eating something you’ve made together is so romantic! No, it’s not. It is not merely an activity like roller-blading. Maybe for some people, cooking is a shared activity of love and trust and whatnot. It’s not so for me. The kitchen is my zone. Cooking is my alone time, and plating, presentation and serving something to someone else is my personal nirvana. Some people delve deep into themselves through quiet meditation and yoga alone on a mountaintop. I cook. Now get out of my ktichen.
My friends know this. When I have a dinner party, I insist that they don’t come early to help. You can come early, but you will have to entertain yourself at the well-equipped bar I set out, complete with pitchers of sangria, chilled whites, decanted reds, ice, mixers, vodka, and even garnishes that I have already zested, peeled, and twisted for you. But do not invade my kitchen. I will be ready at 8:00 pm, and please excuse me if I ignore you until then – I am concentrating.
It sounds so selfish and horrible, I know, but I can’t help it. I have to admit, it’s also the very very competitive side of me that I try to keep under wraps, but when in the kitchen, it rears its enormous, ghastly head like no beast you’ve ever seen. I don’t want to comepte with a man in the kitchen. Why do I see it as competition? I don’t know, because I certainly don’t consider myself strongly feminist, at least, not consciously. I think it comes from my Dad who always told me, do not ever let someone win because you’re a girl. They might beat you because they are faster, stronger, or smarter, but not because they are boys. Perhaps I took it to heart, and now I am too old for it to come undone
All of this came together recently (recently means in the last 6 months or so) because one day, I decided that I was going to cook something in someone else’s very bachelor kitchen. I went to the market to buy all the ingredients for a refreshing Greek salad, and even went so far as to buy basic pantry items like oil and vinegar because John lives the bachelor life, and I was pretty sure that the only edible things in his kitchen were ketchup and beer. I was wrong. He also had a bottle of hot sauce. Sriracha. :)
He had nothing in his pantry, nothing in his drawers. Wait, that’s not true. He had an incomplete set of flatware, mismatched bowls and plates, wine glasses, beer steins, no coffee mugs, a soup ladle and something that looked like it might be used for straining pasta that he didn’t have, out of a large pot that he didn’t have. That is it. I made a Greek salad with a butter knife. Tearing the Romaine lettuce was fine, but do you know how hard it is to slice onions and chop tomatoes with a butter knife?!?!
Red in the face, I was utterly exasperated, swearing and cursing out loud when tomatoes squirted their slimy seeds all over the counter top since John doesn’t have a cutting board. I had a pile of red onions, peeled and seeded cucumber and bell pepper that ranged in size from minced to large dice. I didn’t even attempt to slice the fibrous artichokes more than once, left the Kalamata olives whole, and accepted that diced Feta cheese would have to become crumbled. That’s what I would call a rustic Greek salad. Tears of frustration in my eyes? No, that was the onion. Deep down inside, though, I secretly loved it.
It was endearing to me. He is helpless in the kitchen. He can’t eat without me, or at least, he’d have to rely on pizza and styrofoam containers from Pho 99 five nights a week. What if he had a Santoku knife and a KitchenAid stand mixer? What if he told me to sit down with a glass of wine and he’d whip up a fabulous roast lamb with figs in rosemary port sauce? What if he pulled a lemon verbena cheesecake out of the refrigerator that he just happened to whip up last night because he just couldn’t let all that lovely lemon verbena go to waste that he had used on the chilled lemon verbena and lobster souffle? I’d be impressed. I’d be miserable.
Nonetheless, I decided to make a list of the most essential things John needed for his kitchen, beyond flatware that doubled as cooking utensils and cups. If a guy has nothing but ketchup and beer in the fridge, at the very least, he must have these basic tools to make...spicy ketchup beer soup.
A good, sharp knife. While a $1500 knife hand-crafted by a Samurai in Japan would be my lustful dream, anything that is sharper than a butter knife will do. Swiss Army doesn’t count.
A can opener. It doesn't have to be a fancy electric can opener. A manual can opener is good enough. Bottle openers and corkscrews cannot open cans.
A medium-sized pot. You can get by with one stove-top item if it’s a medium sized pot, for you see, a pot can also pretend to be a frying pan if it's absolutely necessary. It might be tough to get your butter knife down in the pot to flip your omelette, but it can be done. However, the converse is not true. A frying pan can never pretend to be a pot. Unless of course, you plan to boil your soup a half cup at a time.
A knife, a can opener, and a pot. Obviously, there are a few other things that could be added to this list like a colander, a frying pan and then we start getting into the crazy stuff like panini grills and ice cream makers. Let’s just say you have to be able to use the three coupons that Bed Bath and Beyond sent you. You can always toast bread in your pot on the stove.
I made this list for John.
Then I threw it out.
** a year ago today i didn't understand why pizza is like sex **