Everyone likes to think their mom makes the best banana bread, but in reality, my mom makes the best banana bread. She also makes the best challah, schnitzel, skirt steak, broccoli, cauliflower, mashed potatoes, pasta; the list goes on. The kitchen isn’t the only place my mom excels in, she’s also incredible at her job. In fact, she’s so good at her job that she prioritizes it over cooking. After a long day of work, the last thing she wants to do is make me a square meal, making her exquisite dishes a rarity.
When I was younger and my mom worked part time, she spoiled me with broiled chicken and chocolate cakes up the wazoo. As I got older and she worked full time, our Shabbat dinners became spent primarily at the Outback Steakhouse instead of in our dining room. Cooking at home is cheaper and more rewarding than going out to eat, but on the other hand, it necesitates having to clean up dirty dishes. In a parody of Hamlet’s classic “to be or not to be” soliloquy, a mother contemplates whether she should slave over the stove for dinner or succumb to her laziness and eat out.
To cook, or not to cook: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis wiser to dine in a restaurant
And eat off other people’s dishes,
Or to slave away at the stove,
And laboriously chop vegetables? To bake, to grill;
No more; but to order takeout is to shake hands
With gluttony and laziness themselves, to associate
Oneself with guilty and expensive pleasure
Of which should only be a rarity. To order, to pay;
To pay: perchance to dine-and-dash! Ay, there’s the rub;
For in that venturing to the Outback results in empty wallets,
And making something-from-nothing ends in leftovers for lunch.
To be freed from working 9 to 5, only to be trapped in the kitchen
Baking children’s birthday cakes and crispy potatoes -
Is a (since revolutionized) 1950’s happy housewife ideal.
The heroine is no longer bound to the oven,
Nor forced to dice tomatoes and wash sticky counters.
What use is hard earned cash, if not to tip the flirtatious waiter?
A home cooked meal can be delicious and nutritious,
And appropriate for birthdays and Shabbat dinners. But,
The mere thought of a lava cake is enough to abandon the house
And leave freshly brought groceries, uneaten, in the fridge. – Soft you now!
Grumbling stomachs draw near! Children, get in the car
Be all my efforts remember’d.