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Cooking is probably not inherently disastrous. I mean, people do it every day. Some do it every day for other people’s money.

I know that I can learn to cook things rather well, if I am willing to keep doing it. I once vowed never to eat soup again because Mom made it once a month for years and I just really started hating it, but I got over it, mostly out of a weird curiosity about how much garlic you could put in something and still have it taste good, or at least interesting.

And that’s what I usually aim for: “good, or at least interesting.” All food is finite. You will only have to put up with it for so long. You can even shove it to the back of the bottom shelf of the fridge, hide it behind a jar of pickles you’re probably never going to actually eat, and pretend to have forgotten about it until you “find” it months later and are justified in throwing it away.

There are a few things I can make really well. Potato salad, for instance. Chicken salad (for making wraps with). Salad with chicken in it (for eating). Regular salad. Clearly I’ve got salads in general down.

(Not pasta salad, though; I really like the kind from Whole Foods, but in general, it weirds me out.)

And these are all things that at one time I looked upon as magic that could only be done by people inducted into the right sort of cult, which I think was some combination of the United States Air Force (where my dad learned) and being the oldest girl of eight siblings (where my mom learned). Given that I mostly grew up an only child and I have no intention of joining the military, I thought I was shit out of luck.

But I’m not! Because boiling things is not complicated, and nor is chopping; and things will almost always turn out “at least interesting” in the end. Cooking is actually way less hard than everyone says it is if you are willing to taste whatever you make with as few expectations as possible. I usually only cook things I haven’t eaten in years and years, so that helps.

Tonight I made beef stew, which came out quite well, thank you. Tonight I also had reason to be very thankful I live alone, because roommates rarely appreciate it when you start yelling swear words because you can’t brown meat in batches without getting lightly spattered with boiling oil. I gave the neighbor cookies, and it wasn’t me playing music when she came around to complain; I think we’re okay for at least a while longer.

(I was watching Star Trek, but that is neither here nor there.)

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