Good food and equally good company can make reconnecting with old friends relaxing and interesting.
When my children were growing up I cooked and baked all the time. I enjoyed it and it gave me the opportunity to be adventurous in the kitchen. My children loved it because they got to eat healthy but exciting meals. I also used to entertain a lot which meant more time in the kitchen.
I still cook for myself and occasionally I am called upon to cook for friends. I recently had to cook for friends — a couple — who had come on a visit from abroad. We had not seen each other for some time but I still remembered their favourite foods so I cooked up a storm.
I made a wonderful Moroccan dish for the wife and took out my clay pots (oh yes, you can cook in clay pots on your gas or electric stove) from Chipinge and cooked some knuckle and marrowbones for the husband. I made a peanut butter and chilli spinach and some sorghum sadza to go with the bones and spinach. I use a lot of spices and herbs in all my cooking so even a simple dish always ends up looking and tasting special.
By the time my friends arrived everything was ready and we settled down with some drinks and started catching up.
When we eventually sat at the table I was pleased I had spent all that time in the kitchen from the excited gasps coming from my two friends. As we ate we continued talking and without any warning my battle to please my friends’ taste buds had turned into World War Three!
One minute I was being complimented for my cooking skills and for remembering their favourite dishes and the next minute husband and wife were ready to hurl plates and more at each other.
The husband had tactlessly remarked that early in their marriage the wife had cooked all his favourite foods but had now stopped and was more interested in Western and fast foods.
The wife wasn’t taking that “abuse” lying down. She reasoned that she worked long hours, which left her very little time to go to the specialist shops that sell African foods. She said maybe if he helped by doing some of the home shopping she would be in a position to cook what he likes.
Watching the two was like watching a huge abscess burst open. I was astounded but I could see that this was not just a food thing. There were deeper problems and the couple had reached that stage where any small thing can be used to goad someone. My meal just helped the husband find yet another fault with his wife.
Couples must learn to confront their problems
When the visitors ran out of steam I asked them what they were really fighting over and yes you guessed right, the answer was a dull nothing from both. How can people fight over nothing? Only people who are not yet ready to confront their problems will tell you they are fighting over zilch!
I decided to stay with the food incident so I asked the husband what he really missed about his wife’s cooking. He said she had a special sauce she made for the knucklebones. He said every time he ate food cooked by his wife he felt it had been cooked with love. He said his wife’s cooking made him feel he occupied a special space in his wife’s heart.
The wife said she had stopped cooking because she was angry with him. He had cheated on her just before they moved abroad.
“When we went overseas I was hurt and was determined to change a lot of things about myself and one of those was to stop cooking your favourite food. This was the only way I could show you that I was unhappy. But it was almost like you didn’t care because you never asked me why I had changed,” she said.
These two have serious problems but like so many couples, their heads are buried deep in the sand. Some people think problems will disappear if ignored. There is also fear that if a discussion opens up it might lead to a breakup. Things are left to simmer only to erupt into raging volcanoes that no one can stop.
Women do not want to be taken for granted
I get how some women feel resentful because their men take them for granted but they still expect the women to do everything under the sun to please the men. When women cook they are telling their families that they care. It is a commitment to their families that for as long as they can they will keep you healthy and strong.
Helping each other around the home sometimes makes it easier on your love life. A trip to the butchery to get your favourite cuts of meat and a detour to the shop that sells your kind of vegetables, millet, sorghum or maize meal will ensure that your wife’s pantry is stocked up with foods for everyone.
I find cooking therapeutic and I enjoy doing it on my own. It gives me space and time from people. Some people like company when cooking. If your wife is that kind of woman, then take a chopping board; chop some vegetables while she cooks. Make her a cup of tea or give her a glass of water or wine. Use that as time to catch up and stay tuned into each other. Make your wife feel appreciated, thank her and tell her how you feel about her cooking.
A family that cooks and eats together has stronger emotional and spiritual bonds. Remember romance also feeds off good food and relaxing company.
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