Back in my youth, there used to be a lot of concern about giving kids false hope. “Don’t tell little Susie she can win the soap box derby. It’ll just give her false hope” or “Don’t tell little Timmy ‘Phantom Menace’ won’t suck. It’ll just give him false hope.” That kind of thing. As a jaded, bitter adult woman, I lost my capacity for false hope – or any kind of hope, really – a long time ago except in one key area: the thought that I might be able to cook like the people on Food Network.
I have prepared, in total, probably four meals in my life that didn’t have instructions written on the back of a box or include serving advice like “cut a one-inch hole in plastic cover.” But still I hold out hope that one day I can cook like that slightly creepy Nigella Lawson woman whose show sort of makes me feel like I’m watching late night Cinemax. Or that nice Paula Deen who makes me regret almost every joke I’ve ever made about the South and who makes me want to coat my arteries with butter because, in her hands, butter looks so delicious it absolutely must be good for you. I’d like to be able to barbecue with Bobby Flay, too, except I don’t know how to light a grill and am afraid if I try, it’ll turn into some terrible Evel Knievel stunt gone wrong. And that’s just lighting the grill. We haven’t even gotten to matters of spice and dry rub.
These are the kinds of things I worry about when I approach the kitchen. Yet I know I need to overcome these fears because one, I’m afraid the pizza delivery man has become too familiar, waving and blowing kisses as he drives away from our house each night and two, because eating like a college student at the age of 30-something will kill me just as surely as Paula Deen’s butter-coated arteries and three, because as a modern day woman there shouldn’t be anything I can’t conquer – especially, let’s face it, if Rachael Ray can do it.
I just have to get past the false hope of awesomeness that the Food Network has foisted on me. I’ll never cook as well as the people on TV because it’s not my full-time job. I don’t have a state-of-the-art kitchen. I have a small crappy kitchen. I don’t have thousands of dollars in pots and pans. I have bowls with Star Trek characters on them and a skillet that looks like cowboys cooked beans in it. I don’t have the training either. To me, ramikins are Pokemon characters. Who knew? But I think it’s okay not to be a Top Chef (sorry, different network) just as long as I try. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like people die from food poisoning, right?
P.S. If you see a fireball over my house, you’ll know I never mastered barbecue.