Sometimes one needs to go into the kitchen. Me, I cook daily. By cooking, I don’t mean necessarily that I’ll prepare something elaborate. It could be just a bloody steak. Or I’ll chop some vegetables for my sister to have for lunch.
Lately it’s become clear to me how much I need that daily interaction with the kitchen. And like most things one needs, it’s frustrating. Because you know, one can’t always cook. Life happens. Things happen.
I do not know though why I get so agitated when I can’t cook. But I do. I feel jittery. I can’t focus to work on other things. Hours go by and I am sitting in front of my laptop, passively browsing, unable to focus. I should be working. I should be preparing things. I should be doing so much more than sitting in front of a bright screen feeling nostalgic about my chopping board. I get angry, mostly at myself.
There is this feeling of loss of control, of neediness that infuses time spent away from the kitchen. Why do I need this so much, I often wonder. What purpose does it serve.
Standing in front of a chopping board, knife in hand becomes a dialogical experience. I interact with the foods I handle. I smell them, touch them, look at their bright colours. I taste them. My hands need to hold the knife tightly. My nostrils find all other smells indifferent. My tastebuds are dead without food.
I need to cook because it’s the only way I can explore myself, my insides. And it’s the only way I can forget myself. I need to feel the food, otherwise I feel…bored. I hate the feeling of ennui. It disrupts my existence. And the thing is, I am now used to cooking every day. In a different setup, I wouldn’t be used to it. I would be one of those people who are perfectly content ordering takeout. Or dining out. But no, it’s been so long now and the act of cooking has become a habit. And as most habits, it’s hard to imagine life without it. Of course I know that if needed, yes, I would be able to live a life without cooking.
I should be a more rounded person, finding other ways to fulfil this need. To diversify my portfolio, as we used to say in finance. Who puts all their money on one thing? It ain’t clever. Unless you are certain the thing you are investing in will be profitable. And long-lasting. But nothing lasts forever.
So I wake up, crawl my sleepy body in the kitchen and make coffee. I know this will be one of those days when I can’t cook. Yes, I usually can feel it. I slowly walk into the living room with my coffee. I sit on the couch and turn on my laptop. I look at the blank screen. It looks back at me. But there is no dialogue. No excitement. No reflection of my soul. I wait, like a martyr, for the day to pass. For my boredom to devour me. For my anger to consume me. I wait, passively. It’s torture.
Sometimes I’ll enter the kitchen quickly. Just to get a glimpse of it. I feel more needy when I do that. But I can’t help it. We all have our poison of choice and this one’s mine. I lit a cigarette hoping it will calm me down. It rarely does.
I decide to get on with my work. Ignore my need, my beast. Pretend that I’m a rounded person. I fantasise about a life where I am so balanced that I do not need to cook. But this life, even in my fantasies seems boring. I hate boring. So I go back to the kitchen, stand there for a few minutes and then walk out again, disappointed. I can’t cook. I am in chains. But please, do not touch my chains.