Somewhere halfway through my customary sad-salad lunch (not even that bad: spinach, boiled eggs, avocado, and chicken if I’m feeling luxurious), I decided enough is enough. I deserve more than this. I deserve more than having only two handfuls of tortilla chips and a plastic sippy cup full of white wine for dinner. I’m tired of horrifying my new coworkers (nice people but likely never to become homies) by recounting to them how, after hours, I’m a sad, lonely mess of a woman whose life partner is her rescue dog, himself obligated to love me until one of us dies because I paid roughly $6k out of pocket for his one leg surgery. I don’t just want to survive anymore. I want to thrive.
This week, I embarked on a bold new journey into the kitchen. Outside of expertly operating the microwave’s many functions, boiling water, and frying sh*t in olive oil over the stove, this is uncharted territory. Now I know how Captain Meriwether Lewis and close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark felt. They must’ve been so scared, poor bastards.
Traditionally, every time I have ever “cooked,” I’ve had to coach myself: “Ok, Frances, your intelligence is not up for debate right now. You have your own apartment. You pay your own rent and have many hardcover books, which, as we all know, are more expensive than paperbacks, themselves more expensive than the Kindle version. You own wine glasses, and you can afford to fill them with not-completely-gross wines (contested). This is not an exam. What you are doing, right now, is commendable.”
It’s times like these when I rue the day I was born AZN. If you don’t aspire to excellence on the first try then what are you doing.
BUT, I had nothing left to lose (except my appetite, which we all know would take extraordinary circumstances for me to lose). I went to Trader Joe’s (TJ’s, as we in the know call it). I bought Thai chili sauce and two flavors of soyaki. I bought a lemon-pepper herb blend. I bought garlic. I bought wine. I was ready to make some magic, or poison.
Meal One: Wild-caught Atlantic cod in a lemon-pepper rub and white wine sauce, fried and served with brown rice and “harvest” vegetables.
Result: I’d cooked the rice the night before, so when I re-heated it, it tasted like sand. The vegetables were hot but kinda soggy because they were straight from the freezer. And, as it turns out, I over-cooked the cod pieces so they tasted like lemony bits of rubber and sadness. I nevertheless brought leftovers for my lunch the next day, and I ate in the kitchen, alone, and wishing I had never been born.
Meal Two: Island soyaki-marinated tofu with garlic green beans and brown rice.
Result: If I know how to cook anything without instruction, it’s gonna be tofu. This actually tasted delicious. Or, it was drowned so much in soyaki that I couldn’t taste its shortcomings (YOLO). This was actually an enjoyable meal the next day for lunch, as this time, I didn’t ponder killing myself.
By mid-week I gave up. I went back to pasta—or just wine—post-workday and patted myself on the back for trying.