If You Can Hear What I’m Dealing With

Each month, I cull the police blotters from a little foothill town looking for the most ridiculous items to highlight here. But occasionally, I run across an entry that hits a little close to home. Like this one:

7:25 p.m. – A caller reported a neighbor was yelling, screaming and breaking things. Responding officers found a man who was cooking who said he became angry and was throwing pans.

Cooking can certainly push me over the edge at times, although no one has called SFPD on me yet. Most of the time, I enjoy cooking. Ideally, it’s relaxing, fulfilling and a handy way to use up all of our farmers market produce. Occasionally, it’s even inspiring. But at times, cooking can be maddening and getting a meal on the table feels like an exercise in futility and self-hatred.

I’d like to blame the recipe (it’s too complicated! it’s not written correctly! the measurements are clearly off!) but often, I’ve just made the cardinal mistake of cooking-while-hungry. And that’s when I start swearing and feeling sorry for myself. I don’t usually break things but I’ve been known to put down drop the lid to the pot with a little more force than is truly necessary.

Thankfully, I live with Mr. WholeHog and who guides me firmly out of the kitchen when I’m throwing a fit in the kitchen, wrestling the wooden spoon from my hand in order to salvage our meal. But even he’s seen the dark side of cooking. He doesn’t scream and shout, but I know he takes it personally when he’s spent an evening making pizza dough and the final pizza doesn’t turn out right.

Dough is often a source of cooking rage. My friend Amy got so frustrated making a pie dough that she threw the dough and locked herself in the bathroom in tears. She came out to find her husband patiently rolling out the dough. My sister’s girlfriend Corinna said she once came unglued making pizza dough.

One of the things I loved most about the Julie/Julia Project (an blog circa 2002-2003 that detailed one woman’s attempt to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking) was Julie’s complete honesty about cooking. This is easily the best description of cooking rage I’ve ever read:

“So this is when I begin screaming a bit. As I’m screaming, I know I’m overreacting, but scream I do anyway. As I’m screaming, I’m pouring the failed sauce into the blender. Fuck it. What could happen? Well, not much, as it turns out. I blend it and blend it, and it just remains this thin, sad sauce that separates again as soon as I stop blending.

This is when I begin throwing things.

… I scream and cry as if I have no hope left in life, as if Sauce Tartare is proof positive of the absolute failure of my life.”

Julie/Julia Project, May 13, 2003

Even though her sauce tartare didn’t turn out, Julie’s blog ultimately got her a book deal and now a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and directed by Nora Ephron. Blog envy will have to be another post.

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