We were just a bunch of kids. That is how it all started. I remember, he came all the way to the States just to be with me. I was crazy about him. We started living together but some how it felt like playing house. It was all fun. We would walk in the snow; get really cold, come home fall asleep in each others arms, under a cozy blanket while watching a movie. The simple pleasures of life were enough. We were eating, drinking, dancing, I remember a lot of dancing, and it was so much fun.
He is the reason I learned cooking. I often wonder if that is why I enjoy cooking so much. The first time that I ever had to cook, I was nineteen years old, a freshman in college and the love of my life at the time was prone to loose weight. It felt like that I had to feed him. I had not boiled an egg, until I went off to college, so I had no idea how to go about cooking. Then again at home I was accustomed to so many dinner parties with all kinds of delicacies that it never occurred to me that cooking was a job that needed certain skills.
I recall that we were fed up with hamburgers and Pizza, we felt like having proper food, so we went to the store bought all kinds of ingredients. Our dinner was going to be stuffed peppers. This was such a common dish back home that it never occurred to us that it might be complicated to cook for someone who never boiled an egg.
Apparently American Bell peppers were quite different than Turkish peppers. I still wonder why our first attempt to cook was not with a simple pasta dish. Anyhow the meat inside the peppers dried yet the peppers did not get softer. If I wanted to cook Turkish delicacies in America I had to factor in the different reactions of the ingredients. It did not much matter, nothing much mattered, and that is the beauty of being in love. One gets to enjoy anything and everything. Even though the first “Dolma” did not turn out too good, every dish we tried after that tasted amazing, or we thought so who knows, same difference anyway.
His mother was amused with our effort to cook. She would send us recipes. I was the cook, he was my helper, not that I expected him to help but I was enjoying so much that he was drawn to the kitchen. I was laughing while he was insisting that I give him a task too, like a little boy. My ritual was to cook and dance at the same time. I still follow that ritual, it is fun what can I say.
I recall a year after we broke up the first time we saw each other he said “I am starved, for God’s sake cook something” I asked him “What happened? You were competing with me in the kitchen?” He just said that he forgot how to cook. So I walked into the kitchen, turned the music on and danced away while cooking.
I must say, I do not think my dance moves look very cool as I am cooking, funny too probably. It is something, I do out of joy. I know that joy, goes into my food and fills the room. It was funny, how his roommates who knew me from Istanbul had a new found respect for me, only because I was feeding them.
He said that he missed my joy a lot. I always thank God that I have joy.
To this day I feel a kind of transformation as I am cooking. In time I learned many more dishes from many cuisines. I saw the movie “Julie and Julia” recently. I was filled with joy just watching it. Soon after I found myself in the kitchen enjoying, yet again.
Cooking feels so therapeutic, that I wonder is it because my reasons to learn to cook were to feed someone I loved so deeply?
Who knows? All I know is that as soon as I am playing with the ingredients I am overjoyed. A few years back I felt deep love for someone whom I could enjoy those simple moments with. He knew many dishes yet could not peel garlic as he did not want his hands to smell garlicky. It was sweet. As we were cooking in the kitchen all else was disappearing. We would just laugh away. Of course I would have to listen to him being serious about life before we could end up enjoying the moment, and each other’s company. Life is filled with so called troubles. The kitchen however seems to be a sacred region that makes everything go away. It is those magical moments that make life beautiful.
Maybe that is why I love it so much, who knows..? All I know is that it is the simple joys in life that seem to make life so pleasurable.