Last weekend we were invited to a house warming gathering and though I’d usually buy some muffins for such an occasion, this time I found myself thinking of making a banana cake, which I’d made once before. It was the simplicity of the recipe that made it appealing and so that Saturday, there we were, ringing our host’s door bell, with a home- made banana cake in our hands.
As happy as was with the result, I thought it’d would probably be a while before I decide to bake anything again. I mean, cooking is definitely not my style, let alone cake baking! No that’s really advanced!
Sunday morning comes and my husband tells me his father will be coming over for a short visit before they head out to watch a football game. Again, my usual response would be to pop out to the store and get some treats, yet I found myself uttering the following: “Why don’t I make another banana cake? We have enough ingredients for another one. He can take half of it home with him after the game and we can also keep some”
My husband looked at me startled and for a split of a second I think he considered taking my temperature and giving me some paracetamol. I can’t blame him, I was equally surprised myself. “Really, another cake? Eleni doesn’t make cakes, Eleni doesn’t cook!”, I thought.
Ole was swift to take the off though and quickly replied “Really? Yes! That would be great! I could help you!” One hour later, the cake was in the oven and I was kneeled in front of it, looking at it, trying to make sense of the baking spirit that possessed me…
According to the little that I know about myself, not only am I not interested in food or dessert making, but I sort of feel strongly against it… Time spent in the kitchen, is time wasted I’d used to think. Food is to be made efficiently, preferably in batches that last a couple of days and as long as it keeps us fed and alive, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Creating works of art in the kitchen has additionally always seemed futile to me, as they are rarely appreciated as such and they most often disappear quickly from the plate, to a hungry stomach and then forever into oblivion.
Moreover, if I’m going to be totally honest, a Greek woman who likes cooking, would probably have me thinking of her as the stereotypical Greek mother/housewife, who spends enormous portions of her life in the kitchen and whose duty is to please her husband, children and family, but forgets to please herself.
So, what got into me? I could say this was a one-time thing, hide the cake form somewhere, where I can’t see it and promise myself that this won’t repeat itself. I could hold on to my ways and my thoughts and not challenge myself to rethink and reassess my own preconceptions. I could avoid facing the fact that I also fall into the trap of stereotyping, something that hadn’t concerned me a lot before the banana cake revelation!
The genuine joy I got from making those cakes, made it clear that it’s time for me to let go of my old views and embrace a change that might have positive outcomes. By that, I don’t mean the food that is to be made by me in the future – and here, I’d like to ask my friends and family to maintain low expectations about my future culinary endeavors. After all, I only made two cakes, I have not been lobotomized.
When I refer to positive outcomes, I am referring to a new, softer version of myself that is more understanding. I am referring to an Eleni, who is willing to challenge her own thoughts and who isn’t quick to put people around her in boxes. I also want to take from this the realization, that stereotyping is quite sneaky and I that might be doing it more often than I thought I did. That could be preventing me not only from truly seeing other people, but also from truly seeing myself, or allow myself to be happy in new ways.
So, let my banana cake weekend be a wake-up call and every cake I bake, a reminder to have a little prejudice check.