I am a notoriously picky eater. So.
This whole cooking thing has been a challenge in a lot of ways. I cry a lot. I use my many years of yoga training to breathe my way through it. I generally feel like a big idiot, because the vast majority of you out there in Internet Land and in Real Life can make your way through a meal and not give it nearly this much thought as I have been giving it.
The reality, too, is that I am not a “foodie.” After you go through treatment for an eating disorder, you encounter this ridiculous process of learning to “re-feed.” And in some ways, it’s as silly as it sounds. You sort-of feel like a fool, or a baby bird. You feel like you should know this stuff. You should know how to eat.
But in reality, you don’t. And it’s not until you are standing in your kitchen, years later, staring down a bunch of ingredients and a new set of pots and pans that you realise you have absolutely no idea how to eat.
I resolved at the start of this year not only to cook, but to finally take the recommendations of my doctor and nutritionist and put some meat back into my diet. The medications I was taking had left my body in such a state where meat might help me feel a bit more…normal. So when I’d signed up for Blue Apron, I’d picked the “meat” package, instead of the “vegetarian” one.
Also, I will be completely honest. The selections on the meat menu were all things I would eat; the ones on the vegetarian menu simply were not.
My nutritionist had told me at one point: You need to get to know your food. And I had laughed at that, as if to say: What utter bullshit is that?! Because really. Was I supposed to go out to the farm, and pet the chicken and hold the egg in my hand and give it a name before making a scramble?
But on the first day I was supposed to make a dish with beef, I just couldn’t stomach the idea, and I swapped in ground turkey — which I had to go out and buy. I popped into Citarella and spoke with the butcher, explaining: I was a vegetarian/pescatarian for years, and now I’m back on the meat train.
Welcome back! he said, wrapping my ground turkey breast.
He was sort-of a heavy-set guy. Beefy, if you will. I counted that as getting to know my meat.
But, all joking aside, I found myself on Saturday night, cooking “Five Spice Hanger Steak with Stir Fried Brown Rice.” And trying very hard not to freak out about it.
In which I prepared the mise en place:
At that point in the experiment, I was beginning to remember my ninja knife skills.
(The Malbec was obviously a part of this preparation.) It was at that point that I began to steel myself for the handling and cooking of…red meat.
The steak was covered in Chinese Five Spice, a product about which I am quite passionate. I am confident that the prospect of Five Spice is what got me through this.
Rice was off the back burner, and for once, I properly cooked rice. Steaks were starting to finish.
Cooked the vegetables in the meat pan, per instructions.
The finished product.
I stared at this for a moment saying: But I don’t like snow peas. I don’t want to eat them! I’m going to leave them out! Waaahhh.
Then I realised that I was making these meals because I need to try new foods. I needed to not drown everything in Newman’s Own Honey Mustard Dressing and not taste anything, ever. I had resolved to enjoy meals, and part of that meant trying new tastes; experimenting with old ones. Suffering snow peas if necessary.
Also, at that point, I’d had a few glasses of wine, so…bring it on, snow peas!
Veg notwithstanding, the meal was delicious, and cooking/tasting red meat again was not the worst thing in the world.
Total prep time: 45 mins
Taste of my own cooking: Very good!
Ease of recipe/equipment required: frying pan; small pot; knife; fork; prep bowls
Fear factor of experience: Assuaged by four glasses of Malbec, which, incidentally, complimented the meal beautifully.