I’m Done Cooking For the Rest Of The Year
This year I have cooked prolifically. As our global, uh, situation spiraled out of control in March, I helplessly began making and freezing a ton of soups and stews because what else was I supposed to do? I baked my obligatory breads like everyone else. Spending more time at home in my kitchen made me more inclined to nourish myself with food I already had at home. Lots of salads with homemade dressing. Lots of braised chickpeas. Lots of chicken thigh skillet meals. Lots of meatballs with various accoutrements. Plenty of cookies.
The apotheosis of my casual home-cooking peaks every year at Thanksgiving. Every year I look forward to the holiday. Even this year, knowing I would be cooking for just three other people in my quarantine pod, I was thrilled by the prospect of having a Thanksgiving meal that was entirely my own—no dry turkey in sight. I love cooking for my friends, and not being able to do it all year in a meaningful way has sucked.
But as Helen Rosner articulated so beautifully in the New Yorker this week, cooking burnout is real. I am so tired of cooking. I’ve been doing it so much this year. If all I had to do was cook all day, like the born-again tradwife influencer I follow on Instagram, it would be fine. But unfortunately I must live a life that requires me to have other obligations, so to cook at the end of a long day feels like a chore and not something that sparks joy in my life.
I had even taken pains to make sure Thanksgiving would be extra easy this year; I picked up stuffing (challah, with apples and chestnuts) and mashed potatoes and gravy from R&D Foods on Vanderbilt. I didn’t even realize I was sick of cooking until Wednesday, the day I traditionally look forward to as prep day for the main event.
I’d left myself five dishes to put together, but I looked at my shopping list and my schedule for cooking on Thursday that would ensure a 6:30 p.m. dinner and I wanted to scream. I did not want to make the cauliflower gratin, or the sweet potatoes, or even the seafoam salad. I wanted to sleep for 12 hours and wake up on Thursday morning well-rested and not have to do the dishes. For the first time in my life I briefly envied the people whose Thanksgiving contributions…