I feel like ranting a bit. There’s a radio DJ who I often have the misfortune of listening to while driving to work. In the past, I tuned in while she was whining about how she was once in a cab, and she was like, so busy BBMing on her Blackberry, and all of a sudden, she went flying into the window divider between the front and back seats. Because, “Like, WHO wears a seatbelt in a NYC cab???” I do! (When you’ve had your front teeth knocked out of your face in a car accident, while sitting in the back seat, you realize what a difference a seat belt makes.) I couldn’t believe that this DJ was whining about seat belts to a wide audience, which may have included impressionable youngsters tuning in on their drive to school. From that point on, I was completely annoyed by this chick.
The other day, inbetween Maroon 5 and “California Gurls,” she starts giggling about how, “Oh muh G, I don’t cook! Like I totally don’t cook…” And then she gushes that even heating something up in a microwave is a big deal for her.
This jogged my memory of a discussion that a friend and I had several months back: Girls we knew who seemed to think that others should find it endearing that they haven’t a clue what a spatula is. That they think that making a simple salsa is hardcore complicated gourmet. That their ovens are only good for storing Louboutins…as if they came up with that—not the Queen of Anti-Domesticity herself, Carrie Bradshaw.
This isn’t a city girl vs. suburban girl thing, but I do think many Anti-Domestic Princesses happen to live in the city and use their cramped apartments and chaotic work/social lives as excuses not to surf around on Epicurious instead of Menupages.com. However, not every 20-something professional chica in NYC knows more about her smart phone than her stove. My old roomie in SoHo often went for runs after work and then made herself incredible, protein-packed vegan dinners. And my friend Carey, who lives in Manhattan, works for several publications and still manages to somehow prepare three healthy meals a day. She says it saves her money, and bonus: she knows what she’s eating!
Therein lies the power of cooking for yourself. It’s not anti-feminist or hip urbanista behavior. Knowing how to use your oven is not giving in to some 1950s, subservient, Leave It to Beaver social trap to DIY in the kitchen. It’s empowering, because when you make your own meal, your health (and your wallet) is in your hands. Admittedly, when I was a single girl living in Boston, L.A. and NYC, I was a huge fan of takeout, delivery and going out to dinner with my friends or dates. I probably spent more money on eating out than anything else, except, well, maybe sundresses. (I have a penchant for sundresses.) But guess what? I regret it! I don’t regret every delicious meal. No, some maki special deliveries, Poquito Mas carry-out trips or Toast to-go runs were totally worth it. But not caring enough to learn how to make myself a healthy lunch or dinner on a regular basis stripped me of cash and left me at the mercy of the sushi chef or burrito guy. While leading that takeout-frenzied city life, I also fell off the bandwagon with Weight Watchers and gained back about 18 lbs. of my hard-won 40 total lost. Thinking back to the all the Washington Square Park falafel pitas and Bleecker St. ahi tuna burgers, I’m shocked that I didn’t gain more.
These days, Dan and I cook dinner just about every night. We definitely get bored with the same old recipes. But that’s when I go online and do some research (one of my fave things) or talk to my friend Lisa about what she is making lately (she gave me a killer marinade recipe this past weekend) or buy rainbow kale, because we’d never eaten it before and need to mix it up in the greens dept. Yeah, we spend a significant amount of our paychecks on some organic produce and antibiotic-free, hormone-free meat. But it’s still less than what it would be if we were ordering out every night. And I also think that we’re saving money in the long run, because there’s a high price for the scary health consequences of eating cheaper, processed or pesticide-laden food. Also, because we cook every night, we have the extra cash and calories to go out on a Friday or Saturday night for a really delicious meal with our friends, at a restaurant like our new favorite Greek place in Bloomfield that is out of this world.
The best part: It feels like I’ve accomplished something when I make a souvlaki pita myself or when we’ve made a grilled vegetable casserole together. I’m capable. I’m in control. And hey, I am honing my kitchen skills! No, I’m nowhere close to being a Top Chef. But I’m taking care of myself, which I’d venture to say is one concept that will never go out of style.
Do you cook?
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