My family was visiting our Navy Yard apartment in Washington DC. It was a little over a year ago that we sat down to a beautiful breakfast. James made a four course masterpiece, effortlessly. I started to cry at the table; just a quiet sob. My mom asked me what in the world was the matter.
"James doesn't let me cook anymore".
My sister looked as if she wanted to leap over the poached eggs and smack me. Needless to say, she thought I was out of my mind. Mom and Nana just shook their heads. After twenty or so years of my typical reactions to stimuli (crying), they had seen it all. I realized I was being silly, and tucked in to another delightful meal. But I still felt a pang of unease. Along came this man, a whiz in the kitchen, and my position was threatened.
After two and a half years of sharing the load of meal preparation, oftentimes not cooking at all, I have grown quite accustomed to being fed. Assuming the role of sous chef. Being taught. Realizing how little I know about technique. While I'm still ever so fond of cooking, I'm equally fond of sitting in the passenger seat, admiring the driver as he hones his craft.
I have even learned to embrace dish duty. Pots and pans amount with an uncanny speed when the master is at work. Piles of plates and utensils are left for someone to wash. Being that we live in an older home, there is no dishwasher. When Mom eats over, she makes her way to the sink despite my repeated assurances that I will get to the dishes. All other times, it's me. Demoted to dishes.
Cooking is an act of love, of creating, of sharing. That is why I'll always find my way to the kitchen. The best memories of my childhood were had at the table. Rolling meatballs with my great grandmother or watching Nana prepare pizza piena at Easter. The smell of apple pies after a day of picking.
We continue to make memories at mealtimes, memories that amass regardless of who cooks. Laughs shared. Bread passed. The clang of glasses. While I am an average cook, I am an above average eater so my life has become richer having a chef around. I never dreamed a man would upstage me in the kitchen but I'm fine with doing the dishes. And there is always dessert.