Not Cooking

Empty plate (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

There is a point where what you don’t cook means something too. Every day at work on my lunch break, the hectic rush to Starbucks, the deli, money spent. Two weeks into moving and I still can’t make myself at home in the long kitchen – so new and full of stainless steel, without character or enough space to chop onions. The fridge is smaller than me, there is no order to a glutted smash of plastic bags, yogurts, mustard, glittering cherry tomatoes in clear cases. Yesterday I threw away spring onions, cilantro, lettuce, and cucumbers. Forgotten in there. Mom says, try Paxil. But what I need is to christen the kitchen and to write again. I miss those anchors of sanity.

What is there in cooking that saves me? Stability: the heft of a knife handle in my hand, the rhythmic grind of the blade rubbing salt into a garlic clove. Creativity: the unexpected sour hit of feta on spinach wilted in bacon grease. Safety: fried eggs. Escape: a pinch of berbere spice. Comfort: pasta and basil, chorizo. My eyes closed, eating tacos.

I am fearless in the kitchen. A mistake is almost always fixable and sometimes leads to something better than what I had in mind. I try to approach life this way – the best things unfold before me despite my efforts. When I cook, it reminds me of the goodness of a greater plan. When I don’t cook, I forget. And I worry, about success and failure, jobs, getting a roommate, making phone calls, painting, finding time for yoga – as if I were picking apart the goodness of a whole orange and eating only pith.

Then I remember the soup I froze for bad times. Tuscan bean soup, thick with potato and butternut squash, smooth, sweet carrots cut through with the bitterness of kale. Tucked into the soup is the love of standing over a stove in July’s heat wave, patience as beans soaked, as they melted into nothing like butter in a hot skillet; there is the organization of a recipe, my hands that have touched everything – and some amount of foresight. The soup is like a balm. I have that anyway.

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5 Responses

  1. Lyz,

    I wanted to let you know that I really really enjoy your blog– I’ve started a cooking blog of my own which I’m almost embarrassed to share with you, because creative writing is not my thing and it can’t really stand up to your prose, but I do like cooking an awful lot, so we’ve got that in common, at least.

    I hope you’re doing well and I hope you keep writing. I’ll be reading!

    Kathleen

  2. gg says:

    Yes, you have that anyway. And more. You need to make yourself a poached egg on buttered toast. And salt it and pepper it and eat it. Right now.

    Love and courage and hopes for bigger refrigerators in your life.

  3. lyzpfister says:

    that is a very solid piece of life advice. :)

  4. Laurel Cohen-Pfister says:

    Your blog is better than Paxil. Love you. Mom.

  5. vp says:

    Oh, knowing about cooking, about eating, about living, about thinking, about expressing all these with body, soul and words.

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