I’m known for lots of things. Being a whiz in the kitchen is not one of them. The reputation, or lack thereof, has its roots in a poor attempt to replicate the ANZAC biscuits I’d made in a year eight cooking class. I was ambitious, a risk taker if you will. I decided it would be appropriate to double the ingredients (because my biscuits were so good everyone would want more) except the baking powder which I quadrupled because this is a post about how I can cook, not how I’m good at multiplying fractions OK?!
It was truly not a reflection of my actual ability because I assure you I came first in my cooking class that year AND the year before that. I’ve attached photos of both my year 7 and year 8 report cards to prove it. I felt morally obliged to blur the signatures.
Not only am I delightful and pleasant, notice how I’m always wildly above the class average? I mean I know it’s not exactly the culinary equivalent of a Nobel Prize, and given I don’t even know what the culinary equivalent of a Nobel Prize is, I’m probably not fit to win one, but that doesn’t mean I should be defined by ONE accidentally over-baking-powdered experience.
It’s like judging Cameron Diaz ONLY on her performance in The Sweetest Thing or dismissing Mariah Carey because of a poor career move that was Glitter. Or some other artist that released a really despicable first single but went on to achieve fame. The name of every artist in this category happens to escape me, but they undoubtedly exist.
So every time I do cook or bake or stir fry, people always begin by asking ‘who really made it?’ No answer satisfies them. So often I lie and pretend somebody else made them and I’m met with a cocked eyebrow, smug snigger and the classic ‘I knew you couldn’t cook’ as they swirl their beverage of choice beneath my nose (usually water, more adventurously a coke).
Now you might be thinking how odd? Why does everyone know about you her year eight encounter with ANZAC cookies? I, my friend, am as perplexed as you are. They don’t know about the incident, I just apparently, ‘give off an aura’. It’s the same aura that everyone assures me ‘babies can sense’ and that’s why they don’t like me. The aura I’m told is a concoction of qualities that are difficult to pinpoint, but what’s universally clear is that the ‘maternal vibe’ has gone AWOL.
Unless you’re a woman who also gets unfairly judged for being inept in the kitchen or maternally maladroit, (or perhaps a man who’s really self aware) then you’ll probably think me nuts for internalizing this assault on my femininity. But I do. Because the assumptions people make about my ability to undertake tasks that are traditionally domestic and thus traditionally feminine is based on the fact that I outwardly appear to have no inclination toward anything that may vaguely be associated with traditional aspects of femininity.
I take great offence to this. Simply because one chooses to broaden her notion of what is ‘feminine’ does not mean she is wholly resistant or even incapable of performing traditionally feminine tasks, it just means she does not associate gender to the task under discussion. Cooking is not a woman’s domain; it is a basic life skill necessary for a continued existence. A girl’s gotta eat. And last time I checked boys had to also.
I still live at home so I admit I don’t have to do much of the cooking but I can if I need to and most of the cooking I do is simply because I enjoy it. The baking however is 1 part procrastination, 1 part escapism, 2 parts delicious and 1 part easy. Below are two of my latest treats, blueberry muffins and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Before you ask, yes they’re both made from a packet. I only have so many minutes each day allocated to procrastination and escapism, I’m trying to finish a thesis.