I admit it. I am a total Food Network junkie. I don’t get time to watch TV very often, but when I do, my cooking shows are always waiting for me on Tivo and I can hardly wait to click on them and find out what Ina or Rachael or Jamie are up to. Grey’s Anatomy? No thanks, I’d rather watch a pork tenderloin slow roast in someone else’s oven. I keep trying to figure out what it is about these shows that has me so addicted. It makes no sense. I can’t smell or taste the food. Most of the time I would never cook what they’re cooking in a million years (usually because the recipe calls for about a gajillion sticks of butter and/or huge hunks of meat—something I eat only rarely these days). What am I getting out of, say, watching someone pick through a big bucket of clams, tossing out the open ones, checking them for sand? With two preschoolers in the house, I am about as likely to make clams for dinner as I am beef carpaccio.
Sometimes I do make the recipes though, and there is nothing like the feeling of conquering a new territory of culinary terrain. It is empowering to see something on a show, print out the recipe from my computer and recreate it in my own kitchen. When I make a meal, all of my senses are satisfied. I am fully engaged in the act of creating something, and those moments are hard to come by as a mom. Plus, I really love to eat yummy food. This may sound sort of sad, and by all means you’re allowed to pity me, but I think one of the best parts of my day is when I’m making dinner for my family. I start at 5:00 usually and take an hour or so to chop and sauté my way to some form of inner peace. I know. That sounds a little over-the-top, a little too Eat. Pray. Love. But it’s kind of true. The work of cooking allows my mind to wander, to reflect, even to meditate. I’m not saying this happens every night. Last night I wasn’t feeling well and I popped a Stouffer’s lasagna in the microwave. But, on a good night cooking dinner is my time to make something beautiful out of something as simple as what’s in my refrigerator.
So, I think the cooking shows are appealing because obviously those cooking show people feel the same way about cooking as I do. They get it. I can watch them cook and I can learn, but I can also see myself—my own passions, my own creative spirit—reflected back to me. Someone, I think it was C.S. Lewis said, “I read to know I’m not alone.” I read for that reason too, but I also think I watch to know I’m not alone. Now, if only they had a cable network devoted to the art of raising children. Then I think I would be totally hooked.