I want to start out by thanking everyone for the outpouring of support after my last column when I shared the news about my breakup. I’m a lucky guy to have readers like you and you are all much appreciated. I promise not to dwell on the breakup for too long, as that would be boring for you and probably not so healthy for me, but it’s clearly on my mind so please indulge me for at least one more week.
I don’t go to therapy. I don’t meditate. I don’t do so many of the things that people do to help them cope with the lesser moments in life. Instead, I cook. There is nothing more relaxing to me than a long prep time and a lot of chopping. It’s a chance for me to turn off my brain, which is quite the feat considering the speed at which my brain usually likes to operate. Instead of thinking about what went wrong with the relationship or why Joakim Noah can’t seem to rebound anymore or what I need to do to become America’s first Saudi billionaire of non-Saudi descent (also my favorite new reality show idea), I can peel and dice, mince and slice. Cooking is just engaging enough that I need to focus but not stressful to the point that I have to actually worry about anything beyond burning the onions. It’s a fantastic way to set my mind at ease.
Cooking also gives me something to accomplish. Truth be told, this breakup has been the best (read: easiest) of my life. Nobody was at fault and we hold no ill will towards each other. That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt, though. After two years, it’s hard not to feel the pain of something so important falling apart. In times like these, we all need small victories and I posit that there’s no victory smaller than a well-roasted cauliflower. Still a victory, though, and still really delicious.
Cooking is therapeutic for me in other ways, too. I haven’t kept butter in the house for almost two years because my girlfriend was dairy-free and I started using oil exclusively as my lipid of choice. Now that we’re broken up, I can go back to butter and make roast chicken the way God (Thomas Keller) intended. I can also eat ice cream openly and chug chocolate milk if I so choose. I’ll probably skip the chugging, but it’s nice to feel the weight of restrictions lifted off my shoulders.
To lots of people, cooking is just a chore. It’s a way to keep them from being hungry all the time without resorting to take-out on a daily basis. To me, it’s solace. When I get in that cooking zone, there are no distractions, no disappointments, no stupid little fires that I have to put out. Cooking makes it all go away and, at the moment, cooking makes breaking up almost bearable.
It’s also going to come in very handy when I decide I’m ready to get back out there and find the food lady of my dreams. Guys that can cook seem to be very impressive to the female population. I guess I’ll be finding that out for myself. Now where did I put my Wusthof…