Weekend Meditation: Trying to Find Something to Hate About Cooking

The I Hate to Cook Book is 50 years old this year and has sold over 3 million copies. This was one of the original can-of-soup-and-frozen-vegetables cookbooks, done with style and humor, for women who would rather be sipping cocktails in the living room than broiling canapés in the kitchen. A new edition was released this sumer, with much fanfare and nostalgia.

This book was not written for me.

I love to cook. Regular readers know that I'm always going on and on about appreciation and enjoyment in the kitchen and how I find chopping carrots akin to prayer. I even seem to like to do the dishes. Still, this book title intrigues, poking at my kitchen bliss and causing me to ponder: Surely there are some things I hate about cooking?

The first answer came pretty quickly: I really hate the way my hair and clothes and even my skin smells after I've fried up a big batch of onions. There. That wasn't so hard. OK. Now, what else?

(pause ... squirm)

Well, I used to dislike zesting citrus (until the microplane came along.) And cleaning the oven up after a big roast isn't too much fun. Nor is boning a chicken, what with all those sinews and sockets and that puckery, flabby skin. But I pretty much accept these things (even the frying onion smell) as a part of cooking. I may not like them, but I don't reject them. I don't stop frying onions because then I may as well just stop cooking.

'I hate to' is a strong statement which is why it makes a good, catchy book title. But the truth is, even if something is unpleasant or boring or even downright gross (has anyone ever enjoyed pulling the stray veins from a liver with a tweezers?), we'll tolerate it if it's part of something we love and appreciate.

Tolerance takes the killing edge out of hate, allowing something to exist even if we don't like it. So while no one would ever buy the I Can Probably Tolerate This Cook Book, most of us do live by it. We see the bigger picture and carry on, knowing that not everything we encounter will be to our liking. This is a grown-up attitude, wise and true. And hopefully we can find it other places in our lives besides the kitchen.

What kitchen task to you *hate* to do? And do you do it anyway? Or are you a I Hate to Cook kind of a cook and if you are, why on earth are you reading this blog?

Related: Weekend Meditation: Finding Beauty

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.

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