Friday, July 17, 2009

the raw ingredients

I have several issues with food, the most pressing of which just lately has been that none of it is at all appetising (except maybe Kraft deluxe macaroni cheese, but whether that can technically be called food is debatable). I blame the pregnancy hormones for this latest issue, but there are many more that go way deeper than that. My biggest problem with food, however, is that I despise having to prepare it. The stress I feel taking over my body as dinner time approaches every night is akin only to that I feel when I'm sitting in a dentist's waiting room and drilling can be heard. My children are both incredibly fussy eaters and Freya has her own issues including the texture and appearance of food. She would probably be happy to eat sausages every night of her life. I probably need not mention what the smell of sausages cooking does to my nausea-addled stomach at the moment, so her sausage intake has fallen considerably in recent weeks. Another few notches added to the mother guilt.

I have tried cooking flavoursome, minimally adventurous meals for the younger set, all met with incredulous stares and point-blank refusal to eat. Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover it. So I have chosen to go the easy, conflict-free route and largely give them what they want to eat. I want them to be relaxed about food. I want them to enjoy eating, not feel like their dragon of a mother is breathing down their neck forcing them to eat. I connect food with nurturing, so my shortcomings in the cooking department weigh heavily on my perceived worth as a mother. I don't think I'm alone there. I wish I loved cooking. I wish they loved eating. But wishing doesn't help.

What has helped, surprisingly, has been a little reality TV show called MasterChef. If you haven't been living under a rock, you may have heard of it. I haven't been watching it all, but in the past few weeks have been incredibly inspired by one of the contestants, Julie. She's actually in the final two as of last night. Julie is a mother and her reason for cooking is always clear - she does it for her sons and husband, as a display of her love, and what they get out of it is nothing compared to the joy she feels in doing it for them. I so envy her that ability to cook, and to have such a healthy emotional connection with the process. It's been such an eye opener to hear her speak so passionately about cooking. And it makes me think maybe I can be like that one day. I normally hate ''foodies'' but something about MasterChef is so real, and so fascinating, that the egos fade into the background and it's really just about the skill of cooking, creating sustenance for other people to enjoy. I haven't been able to eat much in the way of appetising food lately, but I've loved watching other people make it.

I had a glimpse of Julie's motivation just the other day, when I was icing a cake I'd baked for Elsa's seventh birthday. I make one every year, and every year I want it to be special. Not in a three-tiered, elaborately decorated way but in a real way. I want it to look lovely, to be delicious, and to let her know that I love her so much and I want her birthday to be as fantastic as she is. It was that feeling that I put into every spatula stroke of the pale pink icing as I finished her seventh birthday cake, and I was so grateful for it. Small steps, admittedly, but maybe one day I'll be feeling that same way as I serve up a creamy risotto or a rustic vegetable lasagne for my girls and they say "Thanks Mum, that looks delicious!"

Happy birthday my darling girl.

PS: If you'd like to talk to me, you can now comment without needing a blogger sign-on. It's open slather. Please be nice.

No comments: