I love to cook, I really do.
I also have ADHD-PI (Attention Deficit Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive), which means that I’m easily distracted, I lose things, I forget things, I’m always a day late and a dollar short, and apparently I can’t even do ADHD right – instead of being hyperactive, I’m just tired. All. The. Time. On the whole I think I’d rather have the hyperactivity, since that would mean I could at least get something done. Six somethings! All at once! But no. I just meander along, doing one thing, and then doing something else, and leaving the first thing on the table, and then remembering something else and leaving the second thing on the bathroom counter. Two hours later, I still haven’t finished the first thing, but I’ve left a trail of misplaced items around the house that puts Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumbs to shame.
Needless to say, this is not an ideal mentality for someone who enjoys doing things with heating elements, sharp objects, and perishable food. On the one hand, I can handle the multi-tasking that’s required to get a sauce finished at the same time as the noodles and the bread without the salad going all wilty in the meantime, or at least I theoretically can handle it. The problem is that my poor overenthusiastic brain believes that I can simultaneously do all of that AND balance the checkbook.
My brain is wrong. I could probably Master the Art of French Cooking without batting an eyelash if I wasn’t trying to read the story of Joan of Arc at the same time, but I’ll never convince myself of that when it comes down to the moment. I’ll be stirring and seasoning and whisking and stirring and more stirring, and while I’m stirring I’ll think, “This is BORING, I need something else to do.” This is where I should take a moment to look at the recipe, which would remind me that I need to grate half a pound of cheese. But no. I stir and read, read and stir, and it was such an interesting battle although too bad about the monastery, and oh CRAP, is the sauce supposed to look like this?
So I set down the book, and I will just tell you RIGHT NOW that if you use a burner to boil water and turn it off when you’re finished (which is not a given when I’m the one cooking), that burner does not instantaneously revert to room temperature. Don’t worry, the book didn’t actually catch fire. It was close, though. (On the other hand, if you’re trying to boil water, the process is much more effective if you turn the heat on. A watched pot will in fact eventually boil. But a pot sitting on a cold burner? Not so much.)
I’ll probably manage to redeem the sauce, but then – please do not ask me why because I do not know – it will seem like a good idea to put in the next load of laundry while the water boils for the noodles. Yes, I know that the laundry basket is upstairs and the washing machine is in the basement. Yes, I know that I’ll have to take the dry clothes out of the dryer and put the wet clothes in before I can put this basket of clothes into the washer. Yes, I did sort of notice that there was a new bucket of laundry detergent sitting on the stairs as I went by, and I guess I might have remembered that I had just used up the last bucket, and starting the next load was going to require me to get the plastic lid off of the new bucket of detergent.
CRANKY TANGENT: They shouldn’t even bother with locks on the front doors of houses. They should just make the door handles open the same way a plastic detergent bucket opens, with the tab that supposedly pulls off the plastic strip that holds the lid on, but in fact requires the strength of seven men to remove, and even then will probably slice your hand open since those suckers are SHARP once you pull them off. Burglaries would drop by 90%. /END CRANKY TANGENT
By the time I finish all of this, which of course I knew intellectually could not be done in two minutes’ time, the water is now enthusiastically boiling in the pot, out of the pot, and dribbling down into the spaces under the burners. There is probably not enough left for the noodles now, so I pour in more water and read about the retreat of the English from Saint-Jean-le-Blanc. What, you were thinking I was going to do something useful like chop the onions and garlic? Well, I suppose that would be a good idea, come to think of it.
As of this writing, I have never chopped off a finger while reading a book.
Oh! I forgot about the bread! It always is so much nicer if it’s sliced when it comes out of the oven, so I go rummaging around in the drawer for that one really good serrated knife. I manage to restrain myself from lining all the forks up with their tines neatly stacked, since some teeny-tiny part of my brain is screaming in its teeny-tiny voice, “You must not forget the noodles this time!” I slice the bread and think, “Noodles, noodles, don’t forget the noodles.” I wrap it in tin foil: “Noodles, noodles, noodles.” I put it in the oven and set the timer. What was I going to do? Oh, yeah, the cheese.
Somehow, it always works out, one way or another. The noodles finish cooking, the bread bakes, the sauce thickens, the salad is edible, and usually nothing catches on fire.
Some day, though, I think it would be lovely if I could get dinner on the table before 8 p.m. I’ll give that some serious thought right now, while I wash the dishes and paint the kitchen yellow. That should only take a few minutes, right?