My biggest pet peeve in being a professional cook has nothing to do with the hours, the people I work with, or even the customers who can sometimes be completely unreasonable. No my actual biggest pet peeve is when I hear people tell me, “We would love to invite you over, but we are scared to cook for you.”
Listen, I understand. I am around food way too much, cook way too much, and taste good food way too much. And I will admit that it is hard to turn off the critique in my head. Doing something as an amateur around a professional can be nerve-wracking. It can bring to the surface all of the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy we are used to suppressing.
But I still hate it.
First, understand that Claire and I have just finished graduate school and are going to be paying back over $200,000 in student loans FOR-E-VER. So when someone wants to offer us a free meal, we will gladly accept it.
Second, people must think that Claire and I eat like royalty at home every night of the week, which is simply not true. My lunch is sometimes frozen pot-stickers from Costco or beef hot links on a hotdog bun. Not to mention that there are some nights after a long week, where I simply do not want to cook, so Claire and I will enjoy the rare delicacy of Kraft Mac-n-cheese with a can of tuna.
Third and most important, Claire and I love spending a quiet evening with other people around the table. Sure it helps when the food is good, but just being together is more important. I did not start cooking because I wanted to always eat really good food; I started cooking because I noticed something more in feeding people than just the physical act—the deep spiritual connection that occurs when people dine together.
Maybe that is why the statement irks me so much – it reveals that the other person does not know me that well yet.
Even if you order in pizza, Claire and I will be thrilled; we simply want to get to know you.
Or recall the climatic scene from Ratatouille, when Ego is served ratatouille. That is all any of us really want…to experience the warmth, love and security of home every time we sit down to eat.