I am not a jerk. I really think so. I am usually a very welcoming, kind, and positive type who loves family gatherings at home and is ready to stay in the kitchen for hours making an elaborate dinner. You are welcome to come and enjoy the food and a conversation on some controversial topics, including but not limited to: who really won WWII, is there friendship between women, and why the villains in Hollywood movies are always Russians. Can I just ask one thing of you? If you come a little early and I am still in the kitchen doing the last preparations, could you, please, NOT help me?
I know you have the best intentions at heart, but with a seemingly simple question “Can I help you with anything?” you put me in a really awkward position of lying in order not to sound rude: “No, thank you, dear, I am almost done here”, while what I really have in mind is more like “Hell no! You are going to cut my onions in all the wrong ways, pour too much olive oil over my salad, and mix my batter counterclockwise instead of clockwise! Stay away!”
See, I don’t want to be mean and unintentionally say it out loud. Sometimes I give in to the most insisting guests and let them do something innocuous like peeling garlic. But even then I keep looking over my shoulder, checking how that garlic peeling process is going: “What are you doing? Who peels garlic like that? Just… just… just give it to me!”
The only way to find your way into my kitchen is unconditional surrender to my rule. No “Hey, what if we cut tomatoes in circles instead of cubes?” or “You know how my mom used to make this?” kind of initiatives are allowed. Be prepared that all the techniques you used in the kitchen before are not relevant, all you get to do is peeling and chopping, and nothing is to be touched unless I explicitly ask you to. Also, don’t stir anything.
The only person allowed to stir whatever it is I am preparing is my husband. And that is because the site of him stirring at the stove, with a look on his face that says “You might have been cooking this for two hours, but it’s my stirring that does the trick” is just too adorable and, therefore, allowed.
And I hope I don’t have to mention that my knife is off limits?
Now, do you really want to be subjected to such abuse in order to look polite when you come for dinner at my place? I thought so. Just relax, eat, drink, chat, and don’t help me cook. And after you DIDN’T help me cook, could you also do me a favor and NOT help me wash the dishes? Not even “just your plate”? I hate it. Thank you. Over and out.
I couldn’t agree more with literally everything you said! And yes, two things of mine you don’t ever EVER touch, my knife and my camera.
I am so happy to know I am not the only weirdo 😀 Thank you, Lauren!
Привет, Юлия! I came across your blog and read some of it, both recipes and stories. It was a real pleasure! I decided to leave a comment to this post because it spoke to me immensely. I have to admit that I’m often late and food is not ready when guests arrive. I also feel like I’m not a restaurant, so if we chat a little while I finish cooking, would it be such a big deal? This puts me in the same tough spot that you so brilliantly described. I was just in the same situation yesterday, and having a hard time saying no, I let my friend cook the noodles for me while I cut and stir-fried the veggies. It was the lesser of two evils, as I am really sensitive about the shape and size of ingredients, too. Well, they were not cooked enough. Still tasted good, though. The only person who doesn’t stress me when she’s helping is my sister, who also cooks and is not superficial while doing it.
Your blog is especially interesting for me as I’m a translator and Russian is one of my work languages. Answering here another of your posts, I also feel like I’m loosing it, even if it surely wasn’t as good as yours in the first place (that’s why I’m actually writing in English). I miss Russia deeply, I’ve lived there for a total of ten months during my University years, but the pandemic doesn’t really make it easy to travel there for tourism. So, it was a real treat reading some of your stories and recipes, from a Russian perspective. Thank you!
Greetings from Italy)
Hello Maria Luisa!
Thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment! I can totally relate to losing a second language. I used to be able to speak Portuguese as I lived in Brazil, but it’s been 10 years (pandemic or not, Brazil is just too far away to visit) and now I can barely say “Could you tell me where the library is?” :). At least I am keeping up with my basic Sinhalese (one of the languages in Sri Lanka where my husband is from) mostly thanks to my 2-year-old who’s learning to speak)))
I do hope this madness will be over soon and we’ll be able to visit the countries we love and the people we miss. I am sure once you come to Russia, the language will reemerge from your subconscious, it’s only sleeping, not at all lost!
As for the help in the kitchen, I am glad to know I am not alone 😀 It never ends well, and the undercooked noodles are a confirmation of my theory))) I guess the only person I trust in my kitchen is my mom, because she knows I am weird about it and does everything exactly as I say 😀