July 21, 2014

When Your Family Hates Your Cooking

In the south, the way we cook and the foods we eat matter a lot to us. I think this is probably true of other cultures besides the south, but since this is my only point of reference, that's all I know. Not only is our food sort of central to our traditions and celebrations, but the act of cooking can also be such a meaningful expression of love.

Take for instance the last meal I made for my southern beau. I carefully washed and chopped vegetables. I heated some fancy olive oil in a skillet, making sure it wouldn't burn. I added garden fresh herbs. I whipped up half a dozen farmers' market organic cage-free eggs (you know the kind that come from chickens who live in penthouses and dine on silver trays).

In case you were wondering, the end result of this culinary process was supposed to be something like a frittata. I worked my kitchen magic, all the while thinking about how much I love my beau and how making him a special meal would in turn make him feel special too.

He ate in mostly silence and when I asked him if he wanted seconds, he replied "I didn't really like it, honey."

I was a little devastated.

Am I the only one who has felt this way? Why is it that we put so much meaning into preparing a meal and if our family loves it, we feel so great but if they hate it, we feel awful? I know it's nothing personal against me. And it's not like my beau hates every meal I cook. But there have been a few things over the years that have gone down in history as being the 'worst of the worst.'

Most recently, it was my frittata fiasco, but before that were some other dishes he didn't like, including a red cabbage dish that was utterly inedible.

I know that a few kitchen missteps don't make me a bad cook. Yet these things still leave me feeling sort of dejected. But why? I think this feeling comes from the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to create the perfect meal, bake the most beautiful cake, plan the Pinterest-worthy party, etc. It's a lot of pressure.

Before ever starting one of my own, I used to read blogs religiously. The first blog I stumbled upon was Apartment Therapy and its sister site, The Kitchn. Founded by an adorable married couple, the blog was all about creating a beautiful life in a small space. I ate it up. I bookmarked every post that applied to me, printed tons of recipes and tried to soak up as much inspiration as possible.

Then not too long ago, I read somewhere that the blogs' founders were divorcing. The husband gave an interview saying that the pressure of trying to create the perfect life had contributed to the downfall of their marriage. And this made me so sad for them, because from the outside it appeared they had created this perfect life for themselves...but I guess it was never enough.

When is this bubble going to burst? This "my life is only worth something if it looks good enough to showcase on social media and the Internet" bubble. It just can't sustain itself. I'm afraid it's already making people feel like crap and it will only get worse. Even the current trend of the "Pinterest Fail" is a bit worrisome to me. So you tried to reconstruct some Disney character out of fondant and it turned out looking like Al Capone. Did it taste okay? Did you try your best and put your heart and soul into it? So what if the end result wasn't exactly like the inspiration photo on Pinterest. Does that really mean your effort was a failure?

My goal with Southern Belle Simple is to create a little bit of lovely in the world. But even more than that, my goal is to tell my story. Not in a way that makes me look better, but just who I really am. And apparently I am a person who gets too overzealous with herbs which have the potential to render my frittatas inedible.

So what? It doesn't say anything about my character. And my beau still choked it down...which means it wasn't even really that bad.

I'm sure everyone who cooks has made something that someone didn't like. It doesn't mean they had to throw in their apron.

We've got to give ourselves a break. And I'd hate to think of all the wonderful things we'd miss if fear of failure kept us from trying.