Saturday, 5 June 2010

I can't cook without eating

As a Household Operations Manager one of my main daily tasks is to feed the family. It's up to me to choose the food, manage the shopping budget, get the stuff bought in and use my imagination to serve up something at mealtimes that they will all approve of.

By my own confession, I am pretty crap at my job in general, but not at this part of it. At the making dinners bit, I am actually quite good, and more than that, I enjoy it. I have always taken quite a while to cook, and think nothing of incarcerating myself in the kitchen for an hour, sometimes two hours, to make the evening meal. Not gourmet food, lol (I wish!) just stuff from scratch that takes a long time. It is very often Indian food (because my husband is Indian and also because I like it) with a masala to cook first (onions to be fried slowly in lots of oil till they caramelise, with garlic, ginger, chilli and spices).

My cooking time is a pretty special part of the day for me. It's the part where I feel I am earning my keep, and however trashed the house looks, however much I might have wasted my day, when I make the dinner, I'm doing good. The food also soothes me. Soothes my husband too. Sitting down to a nice meal, served nicely at the table, restores order and balance.

But the ritual for me begins with the preparation, and during that time, do you know what I do? I eat.

I cannot possibly, I tell myself, cannot possibly cook food when I am hungry. So it begins with a snack. Possibly some left overs reheated if there are any, or a sandwich made with something yummy. Then as I am preparing the food, I eat, too. I chop carrots, I eat them. I chop broccoli, I eat the stems raw. When the food's in the pan and cooking, I'll taste it - and that's OK cause even Gordon Ramsey says you have to do that, and then I'll taste a bit more, and a bit more ...

I forgot to mention that in the evenings, I also like to cook with a glass of wine. Not added to the food (hell, what a waste that would be!) but a nice glass of white wine, chilled, straight from the fridge. If I'm in the kitchen for a long haul, then I can get through two or three glasses, and because I don't want to drink on an empty stomach, I'll keep on eating. By this time I'll be raiding bags of cashew nuts, or nicking slices of Leerdamer cheese meant for the kids' school pack ups. If we have crisps in, I'll be having a pack. There are those days when only a beer will do while I'm cooking, so a can of Stella will be on the go ...

(I mentioned before that I manage the shopping budget, didn't I? Sometimes, it doesn't seem to last out the month ... I wonder why?!!)

When we finally sit down at the table, I have my dinner. Then I have seconds. Very often, I easily have the equivalent of two dinners - and that's not counting everything I eat before I start. Reading through all of this, I am wondering why I am not even fatter than I am.

I have used the present tense, to describe all of the above, but as you will know, for the past two and a bit weeks, that isn't the way I've been doing things. Carried along by beginner's zeal, I even forgot about it. Until this lunch time, that is, when I was making up the plates for everyone's lunch. I was so uncomfortably hungry. I looked at the four empty plates, I'd set out and thought: I cannot possibly make up these plates until I have eaten something.

Then I thought, actually perhaps I can. I filled up a glass with sugar free squash and fizzy water and had a few sips. Then I began to chop up salad. I didn't even let myself nibble on that. I boiled eggs, opened tuna, spooned out humous, buttered bread. It was an effort to stop that hand moving to my mouth, every time it had food in it. Every so often I took a sip of squash instead.

When I sat down at the table with the rest of the family, I had not eaten pre-lunch. I feel a bit weird now, a bit unsettled and like I want to go and eat some more. But instead, I'm going to get on with my day.


  1. Well done on the no nibbling strategy. Must admit, I always liked to cook Sunday lunch with a gin and tonic (or two) on the go. It became a great appetiser. My man tends to cook Sunday lunch now, and my drink of choice, pre-dinner and with it, is cold fizzy water, sometimes with just a hint of something sugar-free added to it. I am finding the more I drink a big glass of water, the less appealing wine is becoming!

    I have discovered I am quite good at swapping one thing for another, healthier option. I'd allow yourself to nibble on carrots and brocoli stems whilst cooking though...but yes, I also understand the on-going food 'tasting' adding lots of calories.

  2. Ah, another fizzy water drinker! I love it, although my eldest son doesn't understand how I can, he says it's like ordinary water "with nails in it!" I think it's that sharpness that gives my taste buds what they are wanting! And yes, I'm thinking about consciously allowing myself to snack on certain things while cooking - like carrots etc. I am sooo conditioned to eating while I cook now, it's going to be a hard habit to break!