I love to eat but hate to cook, which is a sad situation to be in three times a day. Nothing about the kitchen calls to me—except for occasional baking binges involving cookie cutters and multicolored frosting. In fact, I once remodeled a perfectly good kitchen into a library with a stove.
Perhaps that is why I am intrigued by the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. Behind its pink doors are freshly baked cupcakes in a variety of flavors courtesy of Sprinkles Cupcakes. Select your flavor de jour, slip in your credit card, and a robotic arm goes to work retrieving your personal box of bakery bliss. The door slides open and voilà. Munchies satisfied—George Jetson style—any time of the day or night.
The cupcake automat also taps some vein of guilt in me. For each passing year, I sneak farther and farther away from my primal beginnings as chief cook and bottle washer. How did I get like this? I come from women who were fearless in the kitchen. My mother, a self-taught cook, loved to experiment with recipes. My grandmother twisted the heads off chickens, for God’s sake.
I rose from a stew of women’s lib, the invention of the microwave, and the proliferation of preservatives—a woman with no burning desire to separate poultry from its head.
Somewhere along the line, without really meaning to, I abdicated the kitchen. Maybe it started when my partner, Rubbertoes, began preparing the occasional meal. Maybe it was when I insisted that my children make their own school lunches. (I reasoned that if I had to shop for it, they could at least toss it in a lunch bag.)
My mother-in-law used to say one of the things she admired about me was my talent for abdication when it came to cooking. This was not possible for a woman of her generation raising seven children in the fifties.
Once she came over for dinner and teased my four-year-old daughter that it was “her turn to cook tonight.”
My daughter replied, “But, Grandma, I can’t drive.”
I think of the cupcake ATM and wonder: if I owned such technology, what would I want my own personal automat to do? Put chocolate chips in my pancakes. Make sure there was always a fresh salad tossed and ready to eat. Peel my oranges in the morning. Know about a million things to do with potatoes. Bake bread, of course. And I haven’t even thought about the drink menu.
I am not alone in my automat envy. I know other women who, like me, get bored just warming up leftovers, who would rather read than cook, and who are thankful to have men in their lives who make a mean chocolate chip pancake.
It has become obvious to me that to cook well one must care. And it has taken me many years to be able to admit that I don’t care about cooking.
I wonder if Judy Jetson ever felt this way, if she stubbornly crossed her arms, and insisted that George press that button on the food processor. If he did, his lobster thermidor probably came out alive and pinching his nose. Those are the kinds of things that happen to George.
I understand. That is the way I cook, too—everything comes out like a sit-com—so it is better that I not try at all. Besides I’m in the middle of this great book.
Give me a shout: What would you like to have in your own personal automat? Or has one of your meals ever turned out like a situation comedy?