I don't know women way back when did it. Hell I don't know how women these days do it. Doing it night after night, sometimes even twice or three times a day. Mealtimes are as much pleasure as they are a pain in the butt, especially when I'm not the only one to worry about.
I'm now self employed, which also means I work from home the majority of time now. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is still a professional that works at an office. Meals are left up to me. In the early stages of our relationship, when I lived downtown, there was always the option to go out and grab dinner, or delivery, or takeout. If not, dinner were elaborate, planned affairs that was designed to show off and to seduce. Take this, for example, the first menu I ever cooked for my current beau:
Pea Soup with artisinal ham and creme frache
Rosemary Garlic Roast Beef with Hasselblad Potatos, Glazed Carrots, and roasted asparagus
Creme Brulee with port-marinated strawberries.
I spent the moring shopping and carefully preparing the creme brulee. I carefully timed my afternoon so that not only did I have time to cook, I did laundry, cleaned my apartment and to get ready myself. It was exciting but nerve wrecking. All those little questions: How does he like his beef: medium or well? How does he feel about pea soup? Will he like my cooking?
My beau knocked on the door at 7, wine in hand and smile on the face. We ate snuggled together on my little breakfast bar.
We've been togther almost three years now, and we live togther. We're at a stage where food is a daily nessesity, not a luxury. We moved into a little corner of the city where there's a fantastic little strip of resturants and shopping about a five minute drive away, but only a greasy spoon within walking distance. Delivery is still an option, but why bother when I can do the same at home? We're also trying to economize, so why not do it ourselves?
I've now learned that there are things better left in the care of my beau, like of we have a great steak, or if a chocolate dessert is in order. Otherwise, there are days that he loves my cooking and there are days he doesn't. There was a time when I thought dinner will always be like the that first dinner, with the candles and the wine. We very rarely have a three course dinner on our own anymore. At one point our dinner was whatever leftovers I dug out of the fridge, or cold pasta, or a tuna sandwich. This was when there were nights when I got off work late and didn't get home till 10:30pm.
Now, as soon as the dished from breakfast are cleared, I start obsessing. What's in the fridge? Do I have a meat substance? A vegetable? Rice or potatos tonight? Asian style maybe? I go about my business reviewing my inventory, checking importing statues, making phone calls and schduling meetings. By 5, I'm wondering when my beau will be home for dinner. I start cooking, maybe. A little chopping here, a little mixing there. Return a few phone calls, check some e-mail. Eventually, somthing or the other is done on the stove (most likely the meat product) and I need to round out the meal. By the time I could hear steps coming up the stairs I usually have dinner done, unless I planned somthing grilled, then I wait until he's home and throw whatever I had washed or marinated or whatever on the grill.
At first the was a novelty, a challenge. Can I really make somthing different every night while keeping things interesting? Now, only after a month, I find that there actually is a change in the way I cook. While I consult my overflowing bookshelf of cookbooks from time to time, I find that I now tend to go where things just lead me. Menu planning is reserved only for guests.
I think my mom's secret of doing this was that she went to the wet market almost everyday. After work, she would always go out and see what's good and from there, dinner was easy. Unfortunatly, I don't have the luxury of being near a market. So, I resort to my freezer, where we store bulk meats and the occasional frozen pizza.
The truth is, domestaction isn't so bad. I know excatly what I'm eating, instead of the golden arches or the dirty bird-type fast food I was forced into when I worked in a mall. I'm eating with the season, I take care of the ingredients, and in the even, eventually, this will stop being a mental chore and it'll challenge me again. Who knows, maybe a three course meal on a nightly basis is possible.