I love cooking for my family so much that I decided to write a book about it called, “Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers who Cook for their Families.” But as in any rewarding relationship, there are a multitude of emotions. I’m also angry and frustrated, but I suppose if we’re being honest, that describes many fathers.
One thing I’m not is hungry.
And neither are my wife or children, and they love me in some small part for the food I make for them. They’re happy about what I cook, but when I’m cooking, it’s really for me. Some guys might play golf, and others pool or online poker, but the way I lose myself is in mincing garlic and sautéing onions. Cooking gives me a break from my real life, except for when it doesn’t. The one thing I really hate about being the family chef is the time pressure it puts me under.
Most evenings I end up leaving my office too late to make anything, and the only thing simmering is my wife at home. I might be dreaming of a mushroom risotto, but that’s about it. The dish remains a dream while I sit on the subway.
I have an active imagination (I’m a writer and a cartoonist) and one of the things I’ve always wanted to do is open my own restaurant. I have one caveat, though: it would only serve lunch. I don’t think I could deal with the hours of a traditional working chef.
Until the day I can figure out how to make lunch pay, the idea of opening a restaurant remains a fantasy. I have one other fantastical notion; if I had stayed home with the children for these past five years I have had so much time to cook that I would be an expert on the verge of going pro.
Here’s where I want to hear from you: am I wrong to think that if my sole responsibility was watching the kids I would have all the time in the world to cook?
Is that just my imagination?
My wife thinks so. She watches the kids and she works from home, so she rarely has time to cook. Or think about shopping. [Wife editing the post disagrees – she is in the food coop at minimum three times per week.] Stocking the larder is the most important task of all. Because of my job, which typically keeps me at my desk until 6:30, she feeds the kids much more often than I do. But most of the time, she’s serving things I’ve made in advance.
I’ll make and freeze a hearty Bolognese, or a fragrant red-lentil dhal, or a savory serving of black beans seasoned with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and salt. She may have some with them, or wait for me to join her after the kids go to bed.
It’s not glamorous, but it’s tasty, filling, and we all love it.