I’ve been toying with an idea for the last month or so and I’ve been putting off writing about it.
Because once I do, I’ve put it out there and once it’s out there, so is the shiny new possibility of failure. (And let’s face it, when it comes to me, the odds of failing are rather high.)
As the January blues are looming, now seems as good a time as any to bite the bullet and just get on with it.
So, here we go.
I’m going to teach myself to cook. Actually, Nigella Lawson is going to teach me to cook – not in person, sadly but via her 1998 bestselling book; How to Eat.
I don’t know how best to explain my thinking here (and as I write this my head is filling with 101 critical voices) so let’s do this FAQ style:
Why have you decided to teach yourself how to cook?
Because I really like eating and messing about in the kitchen – so it just seems to make sense.
Okay, but why do you need to write about it?
I don’t, but I’m going to because I also really like writing and without my MA, my memoir or a writing job I feel like I should be writing about something.
Why don’t you just take a cooking course?
Because I don’t want to. I’m done with education, I don’t think it suits me. I don’t want to compare my progress with other people, I don’t want marks out of ten, homework, tutorials… and most importantly, I don’t want this to feel like a chore.
Besides, I completed a basic cookery course a few years ago, so I already have mad (basic) knife skills.
Why have you chosen How to Eat?
I spent a stupid amount of time leafing through my various options. Nigella and I seemed like a perfect match for several reasons:
Firstly, the title (for someone who likes to eat) was an instant attraction.
Secondly, I wanted to use a book that would allow me to learn the basics and then work my way up to more complicated stuff. But I didn’t want a super-basic, how-to-make-a-slice-of-toast/idiot’s guide to cooking type book.
On the opposite end of the scale, some of the more complex, gourmet cookery books are divided into sections (meat, poultry, veg etc.) and I did’t really want to work from those either. If I get stuck in one section (sauces, for example) for weeks on end I will feel like I’m going nowhere, get bored, and give up.
Another plus point for How to Eat is that there are no pictures. This (hopefully) means I won’t torture myself with ridiculously high expectations, only to have them dashed when my flawed reality looks nothing like it should.
Without pictures, I won’t have expectations at all, and for me – someone who has a bad habit of setting the bar incredibly high – that can only be a good thing.
With all that in mind, How to Eat appears to be the perfect choice.
Can you actually cook or are you one of those can’t-even-boil-an-egg types?
I can cook, but I’m not great at it. I enjoy cooking but I feel like there are only a handful of things I can make well so I make them over and over again. Which means I eat the same things over and over again.
Basically, I’m in a food rut, I’m hungry and I want to know how to make myself more food that I will enjoy eating.
Does the world really need another food blogger?
Probably not, but I’m not purporting to be a food blogger (just a 30-something with no direction and a good appetite).
So how is this going to work?
I haven’t got it all figured out yet. At the time of writing, the plan is to work through the book from start to finish, cooking each recipe as I go and then writing about it here. Disaster will feature heavily. Beautifully styled Instagram shots of mouthwatering perfection – not so much.
As for when I will cook, I’m still not sure. It might be during the week, it may only be at the weekends – I don’t want to adhere to any type of rigid structure until I know what I’m doing.
Have you got a deadline?
Nope. I thought about it, but really what’s the point? I know that a lot of people need deadlines to feel like they’ve got something to work towards, but I’m not one of those people.
A deadline is far more likely to derail me. I’ll undoubtedly miss it, anticipating failure from the off. I’ll just get there, when I get there.
This sounds a lot like Julie & Julia…
Well, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been inspired by Julie & Julia but there’s more behind the thinking than I’ve discussed here. I’ll probably go into it in another post later on down the line.
What if it all goes wrong? You’ve got a history of quitting things, a patchwork CV, not to mention a series of other failed blogging projects. Isn’t this destined to go the same way?
I don’t know. This might all go wrong for me and it’ll be another thing that I’ll have to shamefully add to the list of tried and failed projects. If it is, it is and I’ll deal with it then. We’ll see.