This week SOPHIE THORPE is cooking. It’s like therapy. But you can eat it.
When things get tough, I tend to eat. And when I say eat, I mean really EAT.
After a tutor meeting that didn’t go all that well in my first ever Michaelmas, I went straight to my kitchen cupboard and ate everything I could find. In exam term, I sat and ploughed through two entire cakes without pausing for air.
I’m well aware this isn’t the best thing for my health, and is also a little bit mental. In order to put an end to this madness, and my impending obesity, this week I’ve found a different way to cope with stress: I’ve been cooking. A lot.
Some of you might think this is basically the same thing, that cooking will simply lead to an increased growth rate for my girth.
But that’s where you’re wrong. I’m not simply talking about whipping up an omelette, or rustling up some pasta. I’m talking about labours of love, creations that will tempt a vegetarian to eat meat, or a diabetic to eat cake. I’m talking about taking a couple of hours out of your day to really create something. Not heat it, thaw it or microwave it. No. Cook it.
Right now, I am standing guard, watching out for my precious supper. Within the oven that I protect, there lies the sort of meal that will heal the deepest of wounds: stew and dumplings, with crumble standing by for pudding.
It is comfort food at its best, but having spent almost 3 hours of my day procuring the relevant items, and ritually developing such a masterpiece, I’m not willing to abandon it quickly. I couldn’t bring myself to devour it in seconds. It would be like slashing the Mona Lisa or shooting Yo-Yo Ma.
The flavours that have been carefully cultivated in such a dish must be savoured; the warmth and stodge must be fully appreciated. It’s like enjoying a nice glass of wine, you let your tongue languish in the flavours, you let your taste buds fully grasp the deliciousness, you don’t want the sensation to end.
It’s not really about the product though; it’s about the process, the hours of preparation. As you stoop over a pot, bowl or pan of what will soon be tasty-goodness, you can’t help but feel content and accomplished.
If you devote yourself fully to cooking, you can be the mastermind behind the conception of something truly spectacular. For a few hours, you are God of the hobs, King of the kitchen, Commander of the utensils, Master of the oven! You’re in your element, sieving like a pro, beating like a star chef, kneading like a natural!
Nobody can stop you or your culinary genius! Envy fills the face of everyone who catches a whiff of your sensational stollen, your beastly bread, your remarkable risotto…
As you recede into a world where all that matters is the stiffness of your egg whites or the exact temperature of your marzipan, everything else drifts on by. The world goes on, but who cares? You might just be the next Delia Smith.
When things next go wrong, or you just want to waste some time: don’t worry, don’t eat, don’t run. Cook! It’s like therapy. But you can eat it.