Did you know we apparently can’t even cook for ourselves? OK, maybe this article didn’t say that explicitly, but I don’t know what else to make of the title: Sad Singletons Go Hungry After 500,000 Lean Cuisines Recalled Because They Are Full of Glass. The rest of the article doesn’t mention single people whatsoever, so why the cheap shot in the title? What the hell does this story have to do with being single? Absolutely nothing. I’m guessing the author thinks she’s using some witty alliteration, but the title annoyed me so much it distracted from everything else about the article (like what it’s about).
Why am I “sad singleton”? Am I sad because I’m single? Or because, as a single person, I don’t know how to cook for myself and/or don’t think it’s worth cooking for just myself and eat only Lean Cuisine? Seriously? I’ve never even had a Lean Cuisine. I don’t even like typing Lean Cuisine. Which isn’t to say I don’t indulge in junky food sometimes–I definitely do. But if I’m going to buy something frozen and processed, let’s be real about it. Don’t “lean” me anything. I don’t drink “diet” soda for the same reason (also aspartame tastes terrible, but it’s mostly on principle). I’m not being proud. I definitely eat Hot Pockets when I’m depressed (and who doesn’t love the theme?), but not Lean Cuisine (fortunately– since apparently it is full of glass).
More to the point, though, what’s with the stereotype that single people can’t or won’t cook? I know Ms. West didn’t invent the trope, but if anything shouldn’t single people have more time to cook? Fast food seems handy if you’re running late and you don’t have the time or energy to cook for 6 people. So why the reverse that single people are just sad and depressed and either don’t know how to cook (many folks don’t know how to cook– but many still do, men and women alike) or won’t because, why just cook for yourself?
And I guess this is why the whole thing sticks in my craw so much. I think this is an extremely important question, one I ask myself often– why just cook for yourself? I have come to the conclusion that cooking for yourself is an act of radical self-love and is therefore one of the most beneficial things any person, especially a single person, can do for him/her/zirself. I’m not saying you have to cook if you really hate it, or when you’re tired or just don’t feel like it. I have just found that, occasionally, the idea that it’s not worth cooking for just myself enters my mind. It’s one thing to be genuinely tired or to eat out instead of eat in, but out of laziness or loneliness… that’s a problem.
Cooking is actually fun. It’s part science and part art. And thanks to the Internet, recipes are easy to find. I like to read a bunch of difference recipes for similar dishes, and then improvise it in the moment. Think of cooking like a kid would– like you’re a mad scientist searching for the perfect concoction! You will fail sometimes, but those will always be the best stories… as long as you don’t burn the house down. Don’t burn the house down. (TIP: Always put food on a tray when you’re cooking it in the oven or toaster oven; things that drip catch fire.) And if you’re concerned about the expense of fresh food like me, look around for local farmer’s markets and farm shares– they’re usually a great deal!
Most of us probably associate cooking with something our mothers did for the family (though I have a lot of fond memories of cooking with my Dad). While it is essentially a domestic chore, we also consider it to be nurturing. And why shouldn’t it be? Food is supposed to nurture our bodies. I hate that so many of us wage war on food, or don’t have access to it, or have too much and throw it away. I hate that we demonize calories, cause people to fear and love and loathe food at all once, this thing that is supposed to be just fuel and nutrients (and pleasure to some extent). So why shouldn’t we cook for ourselves? We cook for our families, of course, but why shouldn’t we cook for ourselves also? Make our favorite dish, just because we can? Just because we like ourselves enough to put time and energy and imagination into something nurturing?
Sad Singletons Go Hungry? Nah, I’d rather cook.