January 21, 2009
Spurred on by this delightful post from Leanne, I’ve been thinking a lot about cooking and eating habits, specifically my curiosity about the food that other people buy and the meals they make.
It seems like a particularly personal, intimate topic; only when you have gotten to know someone very well do you begin to learn much about their eating habits and the groceries they stock their kitchens with. When I am in line at the supermarket, I find myself checking out the items other people are buying and wondering how often they buy them. There are some things Brian and I run out of constantly, like milk, bread, cheese, eggs, and creamer. There are other things we purchase less often, but still like to have on hand because we use them a lot in recipes; onions, garlic, fresh spinach, pasta and olive oil, to name a very few.
It’s made me look back at my eating habits and the things I used to cook often in various stages of my life. In college I used to steal greens and sliced vegetables from the cafeteria and add them to my hot-pot ramen back at the dorm. I made a lot of chicken quesadillas and drank gallons of frozen, canned juice when I lived in Honolulu. When I first moved to Boston I made a lot of those Goya boxes of beans & rice, to which I would add more canned beans, fresh vegetables, and meat when I had it on hand. Now, Brian and I take turns cooking each other large breakfasts on the weekends; scrambled eggs, bacon and egg sandwiches; eggs Benedict and breakfast burritos. For dinner we like to bake frozen pizzas and top them with chicken or vegetables and more cheese to make them more filling.
I sometimes wonder what my friends and coworkers eat at home. Do they dine out at restaurants often? Where are their favorite take-out places? Do they have standard meals they prepare together if they live with significant others; if they live alone, do they cook smaller portions more frequently, or do they make bigger meals for the leftovers? If they have roommates, do they share meals with them, or is everyone on their own in the kitchen? I wonder what their pantries and fridges contain. Do they go through a lot of orange juice? Are their freezers filled with ice, or frozen meals, or frozen vegetables? Do they buy oreos?
I suppose a lot of one’s eating habits as an adult were learned in childhood. At least half of the meals on my rotating list are on there because I ate them all the time growing up. We had sit-down dinners every night; sometimes I wonder how my mother managed to have dinner on the table every evening after working all day. Only now do I realize how impressive that is, and how much preparation and tactical planning-ahead that must have taken.
Cooking and eating is a big part of life, and yet it is a part of life which to me seems shrouded in mystery, even for many of those I am closest to. There are a plethora of cooking-based blogs on the internet, but I’m not interested in the cooking habits of strangers. I feel somehow that knowing what my friends and loved ones do in the kitchen, will help me to know them better.
Dear reader, what are your favorite weekday meals to make? What do you like to cook when you have the leisure time and the money? What are the groceries you buy most often? I’m listening!