Making Room for Another Cook
I am a bride in final countdown mode, and boy is it a peculiar place to be. On the one and (most obvious) hand, it's absolutely thrilling and exciting, to arrive at an emotional time and space that threads one's ever-evolving hopes and aspirations for long-haul partnership into a neat little package called a wedding day; on the other hand, it's positively terrifying for this long-time single gal who's run her own show into Year 40, to make room -- in her heart, her kitchen and her daily life - for another.
Over the past few months, I've been processing many of these themes; some days, I get it -- the whole recipe of love and partnership -- like I understand a pie dough or a curry; other days, I get frantic, my vision gets blurry and I have no idea how to cook this thing called marriage.
When it's just you and the other person in your cocoon-for-two working through pre-wedding dementia, the situation seems contained and manageable. And then, just like the March wind, the high drama blows in, and you are suddenly on stage, for all eyes to scrutinize. There are parties, presents and parading; my goodness, I've become a princess.
"Please register somewhere," my mother pleaded with me last fall, when she heard I was considering charitable donations in lieu of wedding gifts. I've never been one for material things, and so this business of getting lots of presents was a concept that took some getting used to.
"It's the one time in your life people will shower you with gifts," she explained. "Let it happen." In the spirit of keeping the peace, I agreed, and now, I can attest, getting gifts is a lovely embarrassment of riches.
As a veteran thrift shopper and trash picker, I am somewhat unfamiliar with the idea of new furnishings and housewares, particularly for a new life of domesticity.
As a cook, I typically buy only what I need for my kitchen, often with a focus on simplicity and minimal space. A nutmeg grater and a new colander are higher priorities to me than matching dishes, for example, and do I really deserve hand-blown champagne flutes?
In this process of being gifted and feted, I have thought about what it means to be starting out in one's kitchen -- whether you're just married, newly divorced, fresh out of college, new to town or suddenly empty nested. Taking inventory of your baterie de cuisine (i.e. kitchenware) is a way of taking inventory of the rhythm of your life.
In my kitchen, the tools have been exclusively self-serving. Never before did I ever have to account for the needs of another cook, and boy was I sideswiped recently. The knives I own are 11 years old; I bought them before going to cooking school. It is a motley assortment, one that has been part of my travels, my relationships, my culinary journey in life. It includes an 8-inch chef's knife, a serrated knife, a steel and a boning knife. My paring knives have come and gone, and that's okay.
One day, Mister Groom comes home with a five-inch serrated knife. It's a good brand, one I like, and he's very excited about his purchase.
"What the hell do you do with a serrated five-inch knife?" I asked in a very surly tone.
"Well," he replied, "I like a small serrated knife. I like to cut salami with it, maybe cheese."
"That's it?" I barked. "I would never buy such a knife."
I know, I'm mean and awful. It took a while, but I finally understood that Mister Groom did exactly what he should be doing -- which is to help expand my kitchen horizons. Baby, this ain't no solo show no more; this is a joint operation. Two cooks, two hearts, one home.
I like the knife. And even if I didn't, so what. I like him better.
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