The girl who could not cook...

posted on: Thursday, 24 March 2011

I was the girl who could not cook. I went away to University, leaving home for the first time at 18 and I can genuinely state: I had never cooked one thing. I spent three years at University living on 'Crunchy Nut Cornflakes' and 'Danish Blue' cheese on rye bread (that's the Danish heritage kicking in). It's not that I had a bad relationship with food, I just had zero interest in cooking it. Luckily as a student I lived with friends who took me under their wing, but still my repertoire was limited. I was however always an ingredients junkie - I used to buy Parma Ham and mozzarella without really knowing what to do with it. My pasta dishes became legendary in their simplicity; pasta and one ingredient. That was it.

photograph by Aran from Canelle and Vanille
I met and married a man who cooks. I now realise this sort of man is a rare commodity. My husband cooks for real. He can make a decent meal out of not very much. He did a Home Economics A-level (for those unfamiliar with the British educational system this is a specialist level study you do at ages 16-18; that's early commitment to the culinary art!). Anyone who has ever stayed with us or come for dinner has been treated to his foodie expertise. The man can cook.

photograph by Aran from Canelle and Vanille

Meanwhile I managed to get through my twenties without cooking; I heated stuff up but had no clue about anything else. Even motherhood initially did not change this. The requirement to feed my child was met with the dreaded 'jarred food' - there you go I have confessed, yes I fed my first born on processed, shop-bought monstrosities. Then the second child came along, and with him some semblance of parental awareness and maturity. I became ensconced on the 'ice-cube' stage of motherhood and by this I mean the bizarre pursuit of pureeing fruits and vegetables and freezing them in ice-cube trays ready for a tiny mouth's consumption. I loved the ice-cube stage. To this day I swear that the process of pureeing everything from peaches to butternut squash taught me how food behaves when you cook it. It was a revelation.

I started to cook. I learned and created and now...well now I can cook. However the myth persists amongst those who know me well - that I am incapable. Everyone knows that he cooks and I just do the frippery that surrounds food; like laying the table and serving drinks. They seem surprised if I manage to put anything resembling a meal together! However as this weekend we are hosting a dinner party for 12, I think I will labour under the no-cooking illusion and let him take the reigns...


  1. Love this post, being a foodie and avid cook myself! I can't imagine not liking cooking.
    Good luck with the dinner party. Pull out all your "culinary stops" and shock them ;-)

  2. LOVE this post....I can so identify with much of it :)

    1. I would love to be a much better cook myself....loads of room for improvement with me. It's something I have thought about a lot recently for some reason.

    2. My husband is a really great cook - an instinctive cook. He just doesn't "do" convenience food, even if he's really tired!! And he too can throw together something fantastic out of seemingly nothing. Even his sandwiches are fabulous!! I am SO impressed that your husband did an HE A level though :)

    3. I have never cooked for a dinner party....EVER!!! Terrible I know!! We go to quite a lot of "bring a dish" parties and my husband usually cooks!

    4. My children ate some food from jars and some from "ice cubes". And look how well they are doing!! I don't think there is anything wrong with that :)

    Inspiring post Lou....I think I will put together a "list of things I would like to cook in the next month" while I am on my train trip today :) xx

  3. This is such a great post Lou. I grew up with a mother who wouldn't let us do much in the kitchen. She wanted to take care of it all b/c when she was younger she had to do a lot and wanted us to just "be kids". I wanted to cook. Then when I left home I ached for her cooking. Slowly in my 20's I started to learn and can now pull off some goodies...but dating the Chef has spoiled me. He's going back full-time and I'm hauling out recipes to get back into the swing. Have a great time at your dinner party this weekend!


  4. haha lou i loved hearing about your student diet. so good! i would totally be the same if i wasnt brought up by a dad whos serious passion in life is to cook. he makes the most amazing meals ever! i am trying to persuade him to write a cookbook and follow his dreams...its never too late i keep telling him! but your role when its dinner parties sounds exactly like my mums haha you two would definitely get along!
    loving these beautiful photos :) xx

  5. Loved this post, Lou :) The worst part is, all the women in my family are amazing cooks and somehow the skill has bypassed me completely. I don't know what it is - I try but I just can't GET it and, as you know, the fire brigade occasionally has to make a visit, lol. Oh and I still have cereal for dinner sometimes ... ack!

    Best of luck with your dinner party, hope it's great! xo

  6. I had to learn how to cook fairly early although it was not the healthiest fare in our house growing up. I do love to spend time in the kitchen ~ mostly on the weekends when I can experiment with new recipes and maybe find a new favorite dish. I wish Trev cooked ~ but he cleans up after I am done so it is a good trade off!

  7. I can't cook and have no desire to learn.


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