What happens when a labor of love does double duty as plain old labor?
Yes! Yes! Yes! Day to day, at home, I’ve likewise chosen this role and have these moments, but worst when visiting with family and they’ve presumptively determined that I should be the cook for the night—not because this job must be done and we should all share the burden—but because “you love to cook!” I want to scream at them not to tarnish my love this way.
First, I really enjoy your writing. It's snappy and literate at the same time. Second, as a man who cooks a lot, I can tell you that I, too, sometimes do not want to cook. Just order a pizza or get a taco. I am a teacher. Every Sunday I bake bread to take to school and hand out to colleagues and students. Sometimes I just don't feel like it, but I do it anyway because the delight that people have with a simple boule of sourdough or a slice of focaccia is quite rewarding.
Terrific work AGAIN :) I'm a poet, so I'm pulling out a few gems to use (with full credit to and citation of you!): "because I made labor and love one," and "domesticity is a luxury." When I'm attempting a rhapsody about my great-grandmother's whatever, I'm going to bring in the fact that my domesticity (very sanitized, compared to hers) is a complete luxury. Really love your writing!
When I became a mom, it was hard for me to accept my more domestic role after years of sharing all household responsibilities w/my husband. It was such an identity shift in so many ways. Over time I grew to love the job of feeding my family, I relished introducing the kids to new flavors (it helped they were responsive to them!), and now I spend way too much time/energy cooking good dinners for everyone when I know I could take more shortcuts. I complain sometimes, and yet I've also ultimately chosen that role. I give myself the weekends off from dinners though!
Omg, have me met? “ I’m a plain old cook. But I’m also a control freak, and I don’t want to eat a mediocre meal for the sake of taking it easy. Herein lies the rub!
Currently writing about this in my thesis! this idea of "labor of love" and "the way to a mans heart is through his stomach." We value the food when we're eating it, but not before, during the process of actual cooking. I'm quoting Aurora Levins Morales, "Kitchens" where she writes, "It's a magic, a power, a ritual of love and work that rises up in my kitchen...taught the rules of its observance to me, the apprentice, the novice..." Intentionally using "work" and "apprentice" was especially refreshing to see with regard to home-cooking, and recognizing it as labor. Mom or grandma is the "executive chef" and you're the budding "chef" in their externship. With the word "apprentice" I compared cooking to learning a trade, like you would with electrical or construction work. Only difference is money. So much of the value of work is defined by a pay-check; I blame capitalism, lol. Don't know where i'm going with is, but I hear you. This labor of love is expensive and tiring at times when it feels expected, but like monetizing a hobby, would one burnout entirely if we got paid to cook in our kitchens? Most money usually comes with conditions. I don't want a conditional kitchen, lol.
I got blowback on Twitter about this, but I grew up in the 60s/70s deeply embedded in well-to-do white suburbia. Think Ordinary People/The Ice Storm. The Rich weren't quite as RichRich as they are now, and most well-off houses had a housekeeper, either full or part time. A lot of us were raised by nannies/mother's helpers (often college "girls" trading labor for room and board). Think Mad Men, and the housekeeper Betty fired to spite Sally. Many of us were raised by those women. The moms turned to Julia Child/Gourmet Magazine for parties, when they wanted to impress, but everyday cooking was basic, often TV dinners. If you belonged to a country club, which a lot of people did, you had to pay XX$$ a month for the club resto food anyhow, so that was often a mid-week dinner for kids, after say tennis or swimming lessons. Early Julia was very much aspirational bourgeois cooking, later she did more "everyday" kinds of things, especially with Jacques Pepin. My mother liked to cook, and is a creative person, but it was seen as sort of weird. And once our family imploded and there was no $$, I got put in charge of the grocery budget, which felt like the only place we could save money. I learned to cook thrifty at a very young age.