Self-care looks different for everybody. Read our volunteer, Frankie’s, blog about cooking as self-care below!
Food is the universal language of love. Many people love to cook, and all people love to eat. Some are passionate bakers; some prefer to stick to the savory.
My first experience cooking came courtesy of my mother. My father and brother were three hundred miles away for the weekend, and it was just us girls. On weekends like this, we made simple food. Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, farfalle noodles, and canned pesto sauce. I made the noodles while my mom picked the chicken clean. I wasn’t very sly when I pilfered the small pieces of succulent dark meat as she pulled them from the bones. These nights with my mom are the feeling I try to recreate when I cook. Time was suspended and the meal was always perfect.
I forgot about our special nights for years. When my partner and I moved into our very own house, he insisted on buying a new oven. With this purchase came a promise to myself: I will learn to cook. I didn’t have the talent of a great chef, but I could learn the techniques if I practiced. I would apply myself, hit the (cook) books, and I would be a Michelin star cook on a year.
That didn’t happen. However, now in year three, I can roast a very fine chicken. Along the way, I did surprise myself. I had grown to love cooking. It made me feel the way I did on those nights with my mother. I felt safe and warm, the way I felt curled up with my mom on the huge, blanket-covered couch at home.
Cooking made me feel capable. Never before had I had an urge to photograph and post food to my social media. Never before had I found beauty in vegetables, or observed the delicacy in garlic and sprigs of thyme. I had never felt the tragedy of throwing away sauce I had made with my home grown tomatoes. I am not ashamed to say that I shed a tear that day.
Cooking was always something others did for me. It was not something I aspired to learn one day, until we bought the oven. Now, coming home and preparing a painstaking meal is one of my favorite things. Sautéing onions until they are achingly silky is an empowering experience. Heating the pan, drizzling oil, and the decisive slicing of a knife into a carrot is an exercise in control. When I put all of the ingredients together in the right way, it creates something whole, new, and delicious. Cooking is a way to be completely alone, but still feel close to my family. The experience of making something that both fills my body and nourishes my soul is my way of caring for myself. It really helps that it tastes good, too.