As if the post-college job search isn’t hard enough these days, a friend told me a particularly disconcerting story that I haven’t quite been able to shake. She went on an interview for a position with a large financial company where she met with a woman who had worked with the company for years. At one point, the woman asked my friend what she likes to do in her free time, to which my friend responded that she enjoys cooking. At that, the woman looked at her in horror, surmising that my friend is merely a housewife in disguise, and said: “You really like to cook? I never cook anything.”
Now, aside from sharing in my friend’s shock over this interaction, I can’t help but wonder why we are so quick to equate cooking with domestic stereotypes. In fact, everywhere I look, I see encouraging signs that more people are cooking at home more frequently. With the resurgence of the locavore movement, not only are more people looking to their local farms for fresh vegetables and ingredients, but it is becoming increasingly cool and popular to do so. In some areas, dare I say, almost the norm. In Brooklyn, while you might not find a crop of tomatoes growing in a vacant lot, you will see that there are restaurants on every corner boasting a local, farm-fresh menu. The emphasis here is not on whom the responsibility falls for preparing the meal, but rather, on what you are putting into your body. Food is no longer a chore that a woman must endure. It many households, it is a ritual that has taken on new meaning.
I, for one, find few things more relaxing after a long day than leisurely preparing a meal with fresh ingredients and a glass of wine in hand. We can’t forget the wine, it’s crucial to the relaxation element. Oh, and the recipe. I will fully admit that I am rule-follower in most aspects of life, but especially in cooking. Throwing open the door to the refrigerator and concocting a dinner with whatever happens to be sitting idly inside is not my strong point. But give me a recipe to follow, and I’m in business.
Last week, I set out to conquer my fear of risotto. My first interaction with the creamy, rice-pasta last year ended disastrously and I have been avoiding it ever since. But my cravings overcame me and, after a thorough tutorial with my mother, I decided to fly solo. Now, as I mentioned, no culinary adventure starts without a recipe and you can find this recipe here.
After preparing all of my ingredients, I held my breath and began adding in the broth.
Few things test my resilience and arm muscles like the constant stirring of risotto. But I bent myself to the task, knowing a creamy, perfectly balanced, and smooth risotto would be worth the sweat. And I stirred.
And I stirred.
And I stirred some more.
And then, finally, my risotto reached the perfect, elusive consistency of soft, melt-in-your-mouth pasta. This may have been a small victory, but culinary accomplishments are far from drudgery to me.