But I didn't always enjoy cooking. In fact, I spent my childhood dodging the kitchen chores, running off to help Dad when it was time to cook and prep for supper. I couldn't stand the fact that all that work would be gone in an hour, with nothing to show for it but a kitchen full of dirty dishes. To me, cooking ranked on the job list somewhere far below shoveling the driveway of snow and weeding the onion patch .
When I grew old enough to go on a first date, the young man, Mike, introduced me to his mother, and then told me it was his dream to work in a restaurant some day. They smiled at each other, Mike and his mom, in mutual support of what I could only imagine would be a career at the one and only restaurant in town, a fast food joint.
"What?" I thought to myself in horror. "What am I doing with this guy? His ambition is to flip burgers the rest of his life? Horrible!" I must have physically taken a step backward, because the next thing I knew, I was tripping.. bumping... falling...
I fell all the way downstairs into the basement.
He and his mom stared, slack-jawed, at my crumpled and humiliated form, thirteen wooden steps below. Right about where I ranked cooking.
Well you may laugh, because the irony is that I have spent the last twenty years standing at my stove, flipping burgers for a seemingly endless line of children and their miscellaneous friends.
And I have actually learned to like it.
Mike, on the other hand, learned to cook in Italy. He often remembered us as he opened chic and expensive restaurants, for which he trained the staff. We have wonderful memories of eating fantastic food with friends and family because of this man's labors and talents.
One year, a couple of weeks after my own labor and delivery of baby number three, Mike invited us to the opening of an excruciatingly trendy, upscale nightclub restaurant in Minneapolis. Could we go? The baby didn't take a bottle, she would have to go with us. I decided to take the rocking Winnie the Pooh carseat, and try to blend in with the svelte young crowd in their glitzy black dresses. I made our grand entrance, lugging the newborn, but the place was so loud, dark and sparkly that no one seemed to notice. Hurrah!
Till I faced the coat check guy at the end of the evening. He asked which coat was mine, and I fumbled, saying it was black. He smiled.
"They are all black, Madame, this is Uptown".
I blushed. The only thing I knew about that huge, postpartum coat was that there were diaper coupons in the front left pocket.
He retrieved my coat in record time.
That was long ago. Last week, Doug and I ate at one of Mike's very own restaurants. The hamburger was so big, I brought half of it home to my own hungry boy, to show him how good food really can be.
You never know, my boy might grow up and want to become a chef someday.