I attended a 21st birthday part on Sunday and found myself in the kitchen for most of the party. To be fair I was asked to co-ordinate the food, and I didn’t really know the birthday girl very well. In saying that however I do often find myself in the kitchen. As I reflect on that I can filter out quite a few things. Apparently I am a good cook; I know I enjoy the challenge. In the kitchen I am a good organiser, most big occasions are about planning and execution, I am pretty unflappable, whether cooking for 5 or 500 I am almost always cool, calm, and collected. I gravitate towards the BBQ, partly because I like my food cooked well not incinerated. Also in the mix is my hardwired to care nature. So some times I can understand myself but as I drove home the other night I felt there was something else.
There was a time when I was happy to be entertained, when I was first married for a few years I would be happy to be entertained, but as years went by I found myself gravitating towards the kitchen, but hang on a bit, I need to back up this buggy and back to my mum. She was always in the kitchen at parties, I guess some of that was about gender roles, (Woman kitchen, Men lounge). I however wonder if some of the reasons Mum was always in the kitchen were similar to mine. We are different in many ways however. When Mum went to help in the kitchen it was more the kind of help that arrives with a bazooka. Mum took over the kitchen and quickly organised it to her way of working and thinking. I did stray down that line a couple of times but worked it out pretty quickly, I can work with just about anyone in the kitchen, and I will even tolerate people who insist on cooking their rice in cold water! There is only one time when you should be careful around me in the kitchen, that is when I am carving the meat, look out if you try to pinch a morsel, the flat of my blade has found more than its share of knuckles, I am not sure why that annoys me but I am getting over it.
Mum had a quick and ready wit, and you would never die wondering what she was thinking, she was a force to be reckoned with, you didn’t get in her way, and it was so much easier to do it her way. it. Mum didn’t really like crowds or too much noise, she didn’t like being out of control, I think gravitating towards the kitchen for her was a coping mechanism, almost a pavlovian response to stress, here was her domain a safe place to be. I don’t really know why Mum was like that, I never really though much about it till this week. I think that the kitchen is a safe place for me too however I have some insight as to what it is that takes me away from the madding crowd.
At the risk of sounding pretentious, I like intelligent conversation, I am pretty good at small talk but it bores me stupid, secondly I abhor boors and bigots, racists and pseudo intellectual fakirs. My options in those situations are limited, usually there are no hot needles to plunge into my eyes, and well actually the second option is probably too rude to write, but it involves clapping! So I head to the kitchen or BBQ. At other times I have headed to the kitchen rather than mingle as people construct who you are by what you do. Having had lengthy periods out of work caring for my family it was something I didn’t want to share nor justify do it was easier to disappear.
These days I hardly go to any social occasions as my life revolves around my children, single parenting is hard yakka and not much time for socialising, but when the opportunity comes around it is blighted by singleness. I feel that I stand out like a pork sausage at a Bar mitzvah. I am treated with suspicion and in fact, just not invited these days. Such is life, I kind of figure people that have cut me off were pretty fake anyway. Singleness is part of my reality, partly by choice, and partly because of my situation it is pointless anyway.
Anyway back to always in the kitchen at parties. Whilst I have to balance many roles at times, being both mum and dad to my children I am at times like my mum and I am thankful for that. I think our world can be a sorry place at times and love her or not Mum brought passion to everything she did, she spent dad’s wages with passion, loved us kids with passion and did her thing in the kitchen with passion. Can I ask for anything more in my life but to try and live it with passion? If it is not the complete answer it’s a bloody good start.
Live, laugh and love well,