Similarities

April 16th, 2008

As I was driving back from Market Basket this afternoon, it occurred to me that, for me, shopping for food is very like shopping for clothes. Likewise, cooking is very like getting dressed.

To wit:

The intricacies of cooking a gourmet meal or putting together a fashionable ensemble are beyond me. I tend to think that cooking/dressing well should be reserved for special occasions (which are few and far between in the sea of quotidian that is my life), so my everyday routine is to do as little as possible. I know that there are some basic items that every kitchen/closet should have, but I don’t know what those basics are (flour? baking powder? black pants? a white shirt?) – let alone how to put them together, and I hardly ever use them anyway, which is weird, since they’re basics. When I’m at the store, I have no idea what to buy because I cannot envision what I will ultimately do with the asparagus except steam it (though I’m haunted by vague images of grilled vegetables bedecked with spices, as seen in women’s magazines) or the long white sweater except wear it with jeans (though I’m haunted by vague images of perfectly accessorized women in long white sweaters, slinky skirts, and gorgeous jewelry, also seen in women’s magazines). As far as originality in the kitchen or the closet, I can imitate something cool once I’ve seen/eaten it, but I rarely come up with something unique myself – I’m always amazed when geniuses like J_H put together things I never would have combined to stunning overall effect (Sour cream in the soup? The blue satin belted shirt with the plaid Catholic schoolgirl skirt? Really?). I tend to stick with a few well-worn and familiar items that are pretty plain, simple, and/or pre-assembled – Trader Joe’s spanakopita, cereal, T-shirts, the long-suffering Skechers that will have to be replaced soon because I have worn them almost every day for four years. And although I have several somewhat exotic ingredients that friends have given me or that I’ve purchased in heady moments (turmeric, eggplant, a yellow sequined scarf, an awesome earring/necklace set), I have no idea what to do with them.

Which is why I requested the services of J_H the shopping and fashion genius this week – I was sick and tired of staring at my closet for ten minutes together without having any idea how to assemble an ensemble with any of the items therein. She showed me so many new ways to combine things that I feel like my wardrobe has more than doubled – even if I wear a T-shirt and jeans, at least I know how to make it interesting.

Now if someone could do that for the kitchen…


2 Responses to “Similarities”

  1. Rebecca on April 17, 2008 1:16 pm

    What you need is a cookbook that fits you. I hate most of them out now because really, who makes stuff requiring obscure ingredients? If the ingredients are not in my cuboard already, I won’t make something new. I did get all of my family (and extended family) to send me their favorite recipes and I made it into a cookbook. I love it because its food I grew up on, and it is stuff that someone I know thought was good. I use that cookbpook more than all my others combined. I can also recommend thepioneerwoman.com if you have not been there already, she has a fun cooking section with fun instructions.

    And that’s all my sage advice. I’m all about quick, simple and easy!

  2. Joanne on April 18, 2008 3:01 pm

    I’m with Rebecca: Cookbooks can help the uncreative chef. I tend toward the whole foods (the store and the food type itself). 🙂 I rarely eat foods I have to cook. This may be in part because of time restraint, and in part because of lack of interest.
    However, there are the rare times when I would really like to make an actual ‘meal.’ That is when I get out my cookbook and have at it!
    I would bet you’d find the same joy in a cookbook I do. You and I are in so many ways, kindred spirits.

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