Very random thought dump re: cooking I had while catching up on this thread…
I love cooking. I’ve been pretty dang depressed for months now but most days cooking is an important part of the day for me. My partner almost does zero cooking. She told me when she was young she refused to learn to cook as a kind of a rebellion against the traditional culture she grew up in, but the downside is she can’t really cook for herself that much! This is fine by me, because I can cook for both of us, and she tends to like and appreciates how I make things, so it is a big deal because I can feel I contribute something important at home, especially if I’m not doing my best in other areas.
But actually cooking is hard! Especially for two people. Cleaning, prepping ingredients, cooking, cleaning up. I am not efficient AT ALL at any of this (although I enjoy listening to podcasts while I slowly go about everything) so it takes me even longer. I usually eat leftovers for lunch the next day or two, but unfortunately my partner tends not to like leftovers!
When she and I went to the Tenement Museum here in New York (the museum owns a couple buildings and other spaces in the Lower East Side and have maintained them as if they were still existing in the late 19th-early 20th century) I kind of realized that despite all the labor that went into preparing meals, some of that was compensated by the efficiency of feeding many people at once. You might have to go out basically every day for ingredients and then spend a few hours preparing ingredients and cooking food, but you were probably making enough for several people (like husband and wife, several children, and probably a couple of boarders who also live in your tiny tenement apartment and sleep sitting up in the chairs at your dining table).
Another thing I’ve been thinking about, watching the Netflix Street Food series, is that working people historically may have often bought food and basic meals out of the house and still do, hence street food. Especially if you are living apart from your family, it makes almost no sense to cook for yourself. It’s an inefficient use of time and then you have a ton of leftovers you may or may not be able to use. And until recently it was probably unusual for a working person (esp if living apart from your family) to have the equipment and space to cook. Like, nobody was making their own bread at home, everybody was buying baked loaves. Who’s got the time to wake up at 3 AM to start baking? Bakers.
Anyway, I like cooking because I enjoy it, it’s nice to work at getting better at something and the reward of getting better is that you get to make yourself happy by eating and make other people happy by feeding them. Plus I’ve listened to so many episodes of The Dig now.