Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Cucinophobic Manifesto; or, I Refuse To Hate To Cook Anymore

Hi everyone, I'm Sara, and I'm a cucinaphobic.

By which I mean, I have a tremendous fear and loathing of my kitchen. Or, more accurately, the main activity besides washing dishes and pouring glasses of juice that goes on in my kitchen -- cooking.

This is a serious shame, because I am a second generation foodie. Which is probably where it all started. My parents absolutely love to cook. My dad geeks out with homemade paté and yorkshire puddings. My mother's kitchen is her territory, and she guards it like Fort Knox. They gave me a developed palate and a curiosity about what and how the rest of the world eats, but they somehow neglected to ever teach me my way around a knife or a stove. Probably because I didn't want to learn.

Then I went away to boarding school, where I encountered 3 institutional cafeteria meals a day. I somehow survived on instant grits, Captain Crunch, ramen noodles, Twizzlers, and Diet Coke.

Next came college, and the super junk food diet kept on keepin' on. Though I did manage to develop a taste for artisanal cheese, beers, and wines, to the detriment of my checking account.

Now I find myself 27 and barely able to boil pasta or chop vegetables. I don't mind cooking, per se, I'm just not comfortable in the kitchen. And that's why I call myself cucinaphobic. Of course, being cajun and a foodie, I can make a mean dark roux and bake from scratch. But you want me to whip up a quick stirfry? Ewww!

Remedy? The Clinton Hill CSA -- a local and organic produce collective which guarantees a truckload of fresh veggies every week between June and November. Every week I'm going to get piles and piles of fresh vegetables, whatever our upstate farmer has on offer, no choice in the matter. I can't just 'fresh green salad with goat cheese' my way out of this one.

So far it seems to be working. I spent all day last Sunday in the kitchen, whipping up pots of gumbo (one of the only non-scrambled-egg recipes I know) and experimenting with pesto and homemade stock. And I didn't even cry! Well, except while chopping onions.

For the next 20 weeks, I plan to report back with every recipe I'm forced to try due to the vats of fresh seasonal veggies hauled in by my roommate and occasional assistant, the non-cucinaphobic Ranbir. And lots of confessions about how I have no idea how to chop anything or what the eff to do with radishes, a vegetable I have never even liked, anyway.

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