Watching him eat the food I prepared truly made me sick which in turn made my stomach get physically ill, hence not being able to eat, which on one hand was great for dropping 20 pounds.
Cooking has always been a passion for me.
For as far back as I can remember I was always in the kitchen with either my grandmother or my father, learning the joys and complexities of Italian cooking. As a married adult in my late twenties, I began experimenting with various recipes from other cultures, always excited about trying something new. Today, as a fifty-something-year-old, my cooking is eclectic and also creative. I rarely follow a recipe; I just wing it with the ingredients on hand and with the learned knowledge as to what ingredients taste well together.
There are many variables when it comes to “what’s for dinner” in my house, but the one invariant that my family taught me about cooking is to cook with love.
Love is the main ingredient, the star, if you will, of the meal, but there was a time during my previous train wreck of a marriage that I considered quitting cooking altogether. Long before I filed for divorce, mealtimes were fraught with anxiety and the feeling of walking on eggshells, and I’m sure that the eggshells were most likely infused in the cooked food from the stress. For a while, I was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for more years than I should have; my main concern was primarily getting the meal on the table, not so much about the preparation.
There was a good seven-year span when cooking became as bland and dry as my marriage had become and was a chore to overall get done. The exceptions were when my ex was not going to be home or was away for work. On those nights, I made food that my children loved and our dinner time was memorable mostly because we all noticed the ease of conversation when he was not present.
Being Italian, I always cook extra food, so the one problem I would encounter was leftovers. When the ex would come home and see the meals stacked in the fridge I made while he was away, he would devour them as though he had been starved for days. So after that happened a few times the lesson I learned was to either make less or throw out all the leftovers.
The last thing I wanted was for him to eat the food I cooked with love since love was nonexistent in our marriage.
While we were divorcing we, unfortunately, lived in the same house. As a part of our “living arrangements”, we each bought our own food though I naturally purchased enough food to make meals with, he, on the other hand, purchased granola bars, yogurt and deli meat. God forbid someone ate something of his, even if it was the kids, it was all out war. Yet, if he walked in while we were eating dinner he thought nothing of grabbing a plate and digging into the food on the table, even though it wasn’t made for him or purchased by him.
It was a sickening sight to behold since he would not only interrupt our dinner, but he would eat loudly and simultaneously demean all of us on how disrespectful we were for not waiting to eat dinner with him.
Can anyone say: delusional?
The funny part was that for most of our marriage he didn’t get home until seven or later, but while we were divorcing his time of arrival became earlier and earlier daily. I never knew when he would pop up.
I tried to manage this change by having our dinner at five in the evening so our meal times would be less stressful and uninterrupted. As he caught wind of this he somehow would manage to arrive in time for dinner. On those glorious days, he was late and missed our dinner, every last morsel of food that was uneaten, was thrown and buried in the garbage before his arrival. The only thing that remained was the lingering wafts of the meal.
I’m sure that some of you most likely think I was being a spiteful bitch, and you’re probably right. But after fifteen years of marriage to a malicious, rigid, abusive, cold man, the last thing I would allow was for him to take away any more of my joy. And one of my joys was to cook. Watching him eat the food I prepared truly made me sick which in turn made my stomach get physically ill, hence not being able to eat, which on one hand was great for dropping 20 pounds.
Now that I have been happily divorced for nearly six years, I am happy to report that my joy and love of cooking, and eating, has returned with a vengeance. And the love served in the food is definitely seen and felt on a daily basis… just ask my bathroom scale.
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