I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I really haven't cooked since we've been in the U.K. I claim that my issues are all logistical; I can't find any familiar ingredients, I'm completely confused by my celsius-based fan oven, the kitchen does not afford me an easy vantage point to keep an eye on my kids. All of those things are true, of course. But the bottom line is that I'm simply not motivated to cook because it's so damn easy to find good prepared food here. The chicken I'll serve tonight came cleaned, seasoned and shrink-wrapped into a disposable foil pan, with a fresh lemon in its cavity and a pat of butter on top just waiting to melt over the bird once it's in the oven. The rice is in a microwave pack that needs simply to be vented and microwaved for 2 minutes. The vegetables, similarly seasoned and packaged, need just a few minutes of nuking as well. Voila. A "real" meal, and a delicious one to boot. No preservatives or unhealthy ingredients. No mess. No effort. No shame.
Well, all except the last one. I can't help but feel a little ashamed as I rip open our dinner packages each evening. It's not that I aspire to housewifely excellence or anything, nor was I exactly winning any creative meal-making awards back in the States, either. I keep telling myself that I'm shopping, making healthy meal choices and putting them on the table for my family each day. Shouldn't that be enough, especially with all of the ironing I suddenly find myself needing to do around here?
Yes, I do feel a bit guilty that my recipes and cookware sit unused in drawers while my scissors get a heavy workout puncturing plastic wrapping. But I'll find a way to justify my actions and continue to buy the yummy dishes that someone else has already slaved over anyways. It's my one little indulgence here, to not work hard at meal-making while I'm working so hard at everything else. When it's time to head back to the States, I'm sure I'll take my London memories and my dusty, unused Calphalon and return to a life of cooking dinner for my family each night. There are many, many things about that time that I'm already looking forward to. But the dinner thing? Not so much. I think I'll stay here and enjoy my shrink-wrapped chickens for as long as possible, thank you very much.