A photo-shopped image of me was recently circulated around the office. I’m in an amateur flamenco dance pose holding a Lean Cuisine carton with the slogans ‘Lean Cuisine – dinner for one has never been so fun’ and ‘Lean Cuisine – the meal you eat before buying a bunch of cats’. In my colleague's defence, it was hilarious and my early-onset spinsterhood has been an ongoing joke between us. Also, when I considered there were other photos of me in the system with my mouth wide open (I was pulling a surprised face) I was grateful my colleague picked this picture and decided to keep the content PG.
It certainly wasn’t the first time my lack of cooking skills has been the basis for some friendly satire. But it’s never really bothered me. I’ve always been pretty open and upfront about my disdain for cooking. And why shouldn’t I be? After all, cooking is an expensive and time-consuming endeavour that literally goes down the toilet. That’s right. All those costly, fresh ingredients, lovingly sliced, chopped and roasted, literally get turned into shit. But do you know what doesn’t get turned into shit? Pretty much anything else I put my time and money into. So why shouldn’t I use the most cost and time effective methods to free up my energies for things like writing the next great Australian novel? (Or watching 50-hours of back to back Game of Thrones.)
But sometimes I can’t shake that little niggling feeling that maybe becoming proficient, nay, good at cooking, goes hand in hand with being a grown-up. After all, most grown-ups I know like cooking and are pretty good at it. As I approach thirty, I can’t help but wonder, does one’s ability to cook determine whether or not they will find the perfect partner and live happily ever after or spend out the rest of their days feeding their numerous cats from tin cans of tuna?
I’m the unspoken black sheep in my circle of friends. The only one that isn’t in a long-term committed relationship. The other women enjoy cooking, and are good at it, and their men like making home brew and playing Call of Duty. From the outside, one could easily assume that my inability to cook has inadvertently led to my premature spinsterhood. But maybe I’m not alone. A study by social researcher Mark McCrindle found only 51 percent of women under 30 can cook a roast compared to 82 percent of baby boomers.
Perhaps then, the question is not whether we can cook, but whether we want to cook. A matter of desirability, not ability. In my 27 years, I have cooked some pretty awesome meals. Not many, but enough to prove I am physically and mentally capable. For a tall, handsome and very well-hung man I once cooked a delicious smoked salmon and asparagus carbonara. Then we had mind-blowing sex. Now that I think about it, the only times I’ve ever really tried to cook was for men I really wanted to have sex with.
So perhaps like the much-loved but hopeless cook Bridget Jones, we early on-set spinsters are simply keeping busy doing things other than turning time and money into faecal matter, confident that one day we’ll meet our Mr Darcy. And even if we don’t, at least we’ll be Australia’s greatest author.
The fact that I can cook (for well-hung men) and chose not to (outside of that particular circumstance) is probably not something I’m going to tell my colleague, even if it would help to rescind my title as the Queen of Lean Cuisine.