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Appreciative Audiences

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(This has nothing to do with movies!  I’m actually writing about the rest of life for a change!)

I like to cook, and I like to bake.  This has always been the case, since my friends and I were bored as kids and our parents would suggest we make cookies.  Or I would “help” Mom with dinner.  Or maybe it was simply gluttony – in seventh grade I had a social studies class about immigration, and the teacher proposed that maybe we could have a class party where we all brought in some food from our family’s heritage.  “Oh, you like to cook?” she asked me, when she saw my face brighten.

“I do,” I said.  “I like to cook because you get to eat afterward.”

My challenge, though, has been an adult lifetime of single dining.  I had a live-in boyfriend for a couple years in my 20s, and I’ve had the occasional dinner party, but other than that I’ve been forced to cook only for myself – my roommates usually have kept radically different schedules, or are on special diets, or just are used to making their own dinners and don’t want to impose on me.  So I’ve gotten into the habit of automatically scaling down any recipe I see for “serves one” or “serves two,” or I get ready for lots of leftovers that clog up the fridge, especially when I get bored with “oh god that bean soup again I’ve been eating that for five straight days no more”.  

Desserts are the biggest challenge – I would love to have a slice of cake or a piece of pie sometime, or make a fudgy batch of brownies, but…not if I’m the only one eating it. I’ve had to toss out half-eaten cakes that went hard, or pies that went moldy.  It did force me to expand my dessert repetoire into things like créme bruleé or mousse, but sometimes you just want cake, you know?  I finally broke down and got some wee little cake pans and tart tins, and have been collecting recipes for “smash cakes” in search of “single-serving recipes”.  But I’ve missed being able to just cook with abandon.

…I have just had a roommate move in, though, that may change things somewhat.  We got on very well when he came to check out the place, and his sister and brother-in-law came to help him move in and I got on very well with them too.  And a couple days after he moved in, when he was still in the settling-in stage, I was heading into the kitchen to get something started for dinner – and paused.  “…Hmm.  If I made a double batch of what I’m making, would you eat it?”

“What are you making?”

“Just some chicken tetrazzini to use up some roast chicken I made.”

“…What’s chicken tetrazzini?”

“Chicken meat, mushrooms, peas, pasta in a cream and cheese sauce.”

“Huh.  Okay, sure.”

And – he liked it.  I mentioned my cooking-for-one woes in passing, and that this was a refreshing change.  About an hour later, he gave me a thoughtful look.  “…So you like cooking, huh?”

“…yes, why?”

“How would you feel if….okay, I used to have like movie nights at my old apartment,” he said, hesitantly.  “Just like…a bunch of people coming over and watching a DVD or something.  How about I could get that going again, with you inviting some friends too if you want of course, and if you were interested in us cooking something then – ”

“YES.” I said, grinning.  I didn’t even let him finish.

The guy doesn’t quite yet understand what he has unleashed.  But when he sees that I have whipped up an entire eight-course Thai spread or an entire dessert table, he will.

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