My mind raced, searching for the answer as my mouth opened and not a single word was uttered. I did not know how to answer this question. The air was stuffy in the small, bare room and the awkwardness hung tangibly between my therapist and I. Why do I love to cook? I… I don’t know. I just do. I always have.
As far back as I can remember I have always been passionate about food and cooking. Too passionate I sometimes think. Dreaming up recipes and flavour combinations whilst trying to concentrate on boardroom meetings is less than ideal. But where did it all begin? At the age of four and a half my no doubt frustrated mother eventually gave in to my insistence on baking a cake by plonking me on a chair in front of the long, wooden kitchen table with flour, eggs, milk, a ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon – and my love affair with cooking began. Although no doubt those first creations were less than edible and were thrown out as scraps to the chicken run.
“I don’t know, I just love it… It’s relaxing and creative…” I told Frank. It sounded pathetic. The truth is, there is no place I’m happier than in the kitchen – chopping and slicing, mixing and grating, combining and tasting, adding and overlaying flavours and smells of the best ingredients to create the most delicious food.
And so I look at the world, I’m almost ashamed to admit, largely from a vantage point with food in mind. When I travel it’s all about sourcing and tasting local delicacies – and so I come home from holidays not just with a tan and photos, but with recipes and local ingredients. When I peruse department stores, instead of coming away with bags of shoes and clothes it’s usually some new piece of kitchen equipment. When browsing book shops I rarely make it past the cooking isle. Saturday morning outings usually revolve around farmers markets and nosing out the freshest locally grown produce. Usually to the utter exasperation of my other half – who has banned me from buying another cook book to clutter our already tiny, windowless kitchen in our tiny, London apartment before at least cooking one recipe out of each of the books I already have.
I sigh as I look out the window at the grey drizzle streaming onto the pavement outside. Is it too much to want a house with a kitchen big enough to be the heart of the home? With a pantry to house tins of home-baked biscuits and jars of home-made jams and preserves. And a garden big enough to cultivate a veggie patch and herb garden – with fruit trees that can one day hold a swing for playing children. And of course a long wooden table for lazy summer lunches shared with friends. Outside the rain has stopped and the warm July day seems to brighten. For now I can but dream – the tiny, windowless kitchen and herb and strawberry boxes on the lounge window sills will have to do.