I cook a lot now. This is a big deal because I don’t like to cook and, also, I’m bad at it.
I’ve always thought of myself as more culturally sensitive than the average American. Not because I’m snooty, though I can be, but because I took multiple intercultural communication classes while in graduate school. However, knowing what to expect when moving into a new culture is different from experiencing it. One thing that is a challenge in my case is dealing with food.
To say the German version of food is terrible would be culturally insensitive. Instead, I’ll say that the Germans commonly put tuna fish on their pizza and gravy on their pasta.
I have found some excellent Thai, Indian, and Italian restaurants. There is a great burger joint on Friesenplatz. There is also a terrible Mexican restaurant with good nachos and decent tequila near a small theater that plays movies in English. None of that food, however, is German or food I’m accustomed to eating everyday. So, now I cook.
I’ve gotten really good at making primal mashed potatoes, and a few meat dishes– all while burning my hands much less often. I’ve found that I like cooking at home because I get to use spices more commonly used in the States and in Mexico, so my food tastes more like home.
Cooking pasta is still a problem. I tried making spaghetti with parmesan, olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest. It looked pretty, but the pasta tasted rubbery.
My inability to boil pasta is really astonishing. I had a conversation on the topic with a friend once–
“Well, are you letting the water boil?”
“Of course I let the water boil. What’s wrong with you?”
The thing is, I hadn’t let the water boil before putting the pasta in. I guess I figured it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m still not sure that it does. This time I did let the water boil first, and it still came out off.
I don’t know if I’m bad at cooking because I don’t like to practice, or if I don’t like to practice because I’m bad at cooking. I mean, I do have a scar on my hand from that time I burned myself while I was toasting a Pop-Tart, but I’m not sure what that says about me exactly.
I’ll keep trying on the pasta, maybe. Even if I keep getting it wrong, I think I’m well liked enough for people to pretend my chewy, sometimes crunchy, pasta is edible, hopefully.