Faithful readers will likely know where I'm headed with this post, snort, but suffice it to say I've always had a love/hate relationship with food. Sure, like everyone else I have to eat and have my own set of regular recipes I don't mind making, but that's where it ends. As mentioned before on this blog, I regard the preparing of food more of a chore than a pleasure. Dropping the shopping and chopping would please me to no end, but unfortunately, until I can hire someone to do those things for me (I also, by the way, would get them to dust), chopping and shopping will continue.
So why, if I really don't like to cook or bake, do I have all these books instructing me on how to do both? Not that I have hundreds of them, but even the 30 or so seem excessive given my distaste for the subject matter. Likely, it's because at heart, I'm a collector. A hoarder even, if I didn't lack the space and money. Part of it I suppose is that I want to support vegan authors, but I suspect it's more of a wish to be seduced. Maybe all those glorious photographs and recipes will entice me to pay more attention to the craft of cooking, and turn me into a vegan who's proud to share her this-dish-is-destined-to-convert-any-carnivore skills. Alas, that's unlikely to happen. In the meantime, it IS handy to see what ingredients I have in my fridge, quickly thumb through a few books, and come up with something edible for dinner.
But a real love of cooking? No, I'm just not that interested. And sometimes I wonder if vegans put too much emphasis on food anyway. As someone in a comment on another post stated, we should eat to live, not live to eat. Enjoying food is one thing, but worshipping it is quite another. Gustatory overdrive even by vegans can lead to the very commodification we're working so hard to eradicate, so let's stop being hoity-toity when it comes to what we eat. After all, you don't see other animals turning simple food into items of status, right?
Getting back to cookbooks though, some favourites include Vegan Casseroles (cooking is way better when you can just throw everything into one pot), Eat Vegan on $4 a Day (food shouldn't be expensive or complicated), The Oats, Peas, Beans & Barley Cookbook (apparently named after an old children's song and written back in 1974 before vegan was an almost household word), and my favourite in spirit, Peg Bracken's The I Hate To Cook Book. Nope, completely not vegan, but never have I laughed so hard reading about something I dislike so much. And if any book should be veganized (like Betty Goes Vegan), this one is it. Not because the recipes are fantastic (they're not, and having first been published in 1960, they're all animal-product centric), but because of the author's attitude, sass and humour.
I mean, who can resist an introduction that starts like this:
Some women, it is said, like to cook.
This book is not for them.
This book is for those of us who hate to, who have learned, through hard experience, that some activities become no less painful through repetition: childbearing, paying taxes, cooking. This book is for those of us who want to fold our big dishwasher hands around a dry Martini instead of a wet flounder, come the end of a long day.
Or which continues a page later:
Oh, you keep on buying cookbooks, the way a homely woman buys hat after hat in the vain hope that this one will do it. And, heaven knows, the choice is wide, from the haute cuisine cookbook that is so haute it requires a pressurized kitchen, through Aunt Em's Down-on-the-Farm Book of Cornmeal Cookery, all the way to the exotic little foreign recipe book, which is the last thing you want when you hate to cook. Not only are there pleasanter ways to shorten your life, but, more important, your husband won't take you out for enchiladas if he knows he can get good enchiladas at home.
Not me. I inhaled and guffawed through the outdated and politically incorrect intro and first chapter (putting stickies on recipes that wouldn't be too hard to convert), and then put it aside for a spell. I've pulled it off the shelf again though, and intend to read it as a humour book. But the book I REALLY would like to see join the other poor neglected ones is called: Fast, Easy, Tasty, Healthy, Cheap and Filling Recipes for Vegans who More Than Hate to Cook. I'm just waiting for someone to write it. :)