I  want my own Zelda.

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.

I envy Mrs. Maisel when she retrieves lunch at the automat simply by opening a door or that she has cook Zelda waiting at home to serve her the best meal ever.

With each passing year, I sneak further and further 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 goodness’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 had a knee replacement and he took over all the meals. Maybe it was even further back 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 wonder if I had my own Zelda what would I ask her 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 Zelda 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.


In addition to being a fan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and am still trying to steal Zelda from her, I write books: contemporary novels (Up There, Book of Mercy, Maud’s House) and cozy mysteries (Down Dog Diary, Warrior’s Revenge, Crow Calling).