No… Mom Can’t Cook Like She Used To

Fuck no … she can’t.

I always hear grown men talking about how great it is to go home and have a home cooked meal by mommy dearest. Usually they’re single (or soon to be…); almost every one of them has a steady diet of Subway foot longs and Miller High Lifes. When I was casually dating eons ago, I went with for a few of them, and they were always short of what they were billed to be. Usually bland. Always fatty. Maybe I’m just a food snob, but I always remembered thinking that another date to Subway would have been better.

And then flash forward to serious relationships, I can’t tell you how many family dinners I’ve had to sit through, sneaking to the bathroom to down Pepto Bismol whilst I tried to stomach the cheesy, fatty, Italian-style cooking (because they all thought they were Italian), sitting in the Italian-style adorned home (because that’s the biggest trend now it seems), listening to people tell stories about their trips to Italy (“you haven’t been … oh you must!“)… and at some point everyone inevitably raised their glasses (of Chianti, of course) to toast the cook and Mom would stand up while everyone cheered (I, of course, always too loaded up with Pepto and booze to be able to even lift my glass, let alone taste the food anymore…). But I always wondered what these people thought was so great about the meal. It was always loaded with fat, drowned in so much cheese I thought they would be serving cholesterol medication mixed with Ex-lax for dessert, and in the end it typically tasted like every other “mom’s meal.”

It isn’t just that I don’t like Italian food, though, faithful blog followers (which is probably, now that I think of it, a direct result of all these wanna-be Italians) – I’ve truly come to the conclusion that “Mom” really can’t cook like she used to anymore.

I present to you Exhibit A:

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, which meant that we needed to bake a cake. My mom came over pretty early on in the day and wanted to help, so I figured – why not! I thought she could bake the cake and then I would make the dinner. An hour into what would later be called “the debacle,” we were all fanning smoke out of the apartment while the fire alarms went off – I shit you not, faithful blog followers, my mother set the first cake on fire.

She then moved on to cake number two, pictured above – that is, its remnants in the trash. You’ll notice she tried to turn this cake into “funfetti” cake (which the flaming one from the first attempt was supposed to be), by adding sprinkles into yellow cake mix. I’m sure you can imagine it didn’t work too well, in addition to the fact that the cake came out about as hard as a rock. Possibly harder. We all nicely had a piece, thanked her for baking it, and promptly threw it away today when it had upgraded from “hard as a rock” to “capable of breaking through a thin wall if thrown.”

Mom really can’t cook like she used to.

My mother used to be able to cook all kinds of great meals, but over the years I’ve seen her ability to do so rapidly decline. Now it’s as if she only knows how to cook a basic chicken and rice casserole, which also tastes like complete shit unless you add an entire salt shaker to your plateful.

But then as I thought about it a little more today, I started to wonder if any of them really could cook in the first place? Or possibly, it’s the bias that mommy can always cook a meal that warms your tum-tum, as well as your heart making people believe the food is actually edible? And what if as you age, your ability to cook sags like your boobs until there is nothing decent or appealing about it (them)? Will I one day be as awful of a cook as them? Or are people just shining me on like they do in Little Italy, clapping and toasting and drinking more Chianti to send the highest compliments to the chef?

I will never forget going to my Grandmother’s home (my dad’s mom) in the years right before her death. My dad would sit and eat her meal, smile, tell her how great it was, and promise we would be back the following Sunday for another helping of Grandma’s home cooking. Usually it was Spam, or some other similarly atrocious dish. Typically on the way home, a “fuck no, I’m not going back for more” would come wailing it’s way out of my mouth, and then I’d be grounded (I was only 15) and we’d be back the next week, choking down another Spam delight and telling Grandma how great it was. Clearly my dad had a bias, or maybe he was just being nice. But today – years later – he claims to still have loved the meals she cooked. Loved.

What do you think, faithful blog followers?  Am I just a food snob? Possibly my picky and still somewhat varied tastes have made me turn my nose up at one of ma’s good ol’ fashioned buckets of whatever slop is being served? In any event, I can think of maybe five women – the mothers of friends, and my aunt – that can probably still cook. The rest, I’ll take Subway.


  1. August Bruckner

    Once you find a place with a good menu the next step is to learn to understand it. You won’t make a good impression on your date if you order something and are then shocked to find out what it is when it gets to the table. Decide beforehand what you’re going to order and learn how to properly say it in Italian. Then, find out what Italian food your date likes and pick out some recommendations from the menu beforehand and learn how to say them. When it comes time to order and you’re reading off your selection from the menu like an Italian food connoisseur you’ll really impress your date.,

    My own webpage

  2. The B(itch)’s Cave | B(itch) Log

    […] handle it. For those of you unaware, Hello Kitty Toaster is my sister in law, and the woman whose pseudo-Italian food I need three doses of Pepto Bismol to stomach is my mother-in-law. (No, Hello Kitty Toaster does […]

  3. melancholiastudioinc

    Oh, ouch! I’m Italian. My mother couldn’t cook and grandma killed grandpa with a bad steak. I don’t cook much myself. I served my boyfriend eggplant with the skin on it and he called his mother freaking out because he thought I was trying to poison him (the poison was in the jello).
    Where I live its all about the sushi. Tuna is becoming an endangered species, the fresh and farmed salmon are both poisoned and the ecosystem is whirring in a blender of oil leaking fishing yachts, and yet the skinny-skinny twenty somethings still belly up (if you can imagine concave stomachs bellying anywhere) at the sushi bars. Somebody get these kids a nice Italian dinner before they starve to death. But, yes, bitch away, nobody likes a mama’s boy — of any ethnic origin.

    1. Heather Christena Schmidt

      Well, to be fair I have never had food from actual Italians. I have had food from people who have ancestors ten generations back and cook food that tastes worse than that crap you eat at Olive Garden. I totally agree with you about the sushi – what is going on with that anyway? Thanks so much for reading my post!!

  4. HaLin

    We should all take to eating Spam, like Monty Python recommended us to.

    Amusing read. 🙂

    (PS: Historical experience has prompted me to settle for cooking as a foolproof means to end my recreational relationships!)

    1. Heather Christena Schmidt

      Oh Lordy – have you ever had Spam? It’s SO GROSS.

  5. blondgirl008

    I am so amused at the polar opposites of our blogs today!
    So, I don’t think you are a food snob. Most Americans can’t cook Italian food. My relatives are fake Irish (hence the name Gallagher) and they always talk about good Eye-talian. They wouldn’t know good Eyetalian if it bit them in the butt. And they sure as hell don’t know what Irish people eat.
    My husband thought his mom’s cooking was good, until he tasted MY mom’s and mine. Then he realizes her cooking is crap.
    So there’s a little bit of sentimentality in there for them, mama’s boy type stuff. But honestly, some mom’s can’t cook, and some can. My mom’s mom started to get dementia. So she cooked for us dinner of rice and potatoes with bread. Boy that was special.
    My husband’s grandmother could only cook if it was baked in the oven. She didn’t know how to saute or fry anything.

    So I will agree. But my mom is the most awesomest cook. And most people will concur. So there.

    1. Heather Christena Schmidt

      I know! You couldn’t plan that shit if you tried…I would much rather have had German Yorkshire pudding than the crapfest we had last night.

      I am genuinely jealous that your mother’s cooking is awesome. My mother was passed the couscous last night and didn’t even know what to do with it. She started dipping her chicken into it…most awkward family moment ever.

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