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Over the last couple of years or so, I have rediscovered, and basically began to appreciate the art of cooking. No, not the dance made possible by Lil’ B the Base God but the actual process by which we’re able to nourish our bodies. Why? Well because I love food and I love to eat, so I figured that I might as well learn to cook.

In my younger years, I never really knew how to cook. Sure, I knew how to heat up some Ramen Noodles and Hot Pockets but when it came to preparing meals, which required multiple seasonings and steps, I was lost in the sauce. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t learn how to fry chicken properly until I was in my mid-twenties. I’ll never forget the day when my mother came over to my house and saved me from crying over four unfolded chicken wings swimming in a pan of lukewarm grease. “Why won’t they fry? *sob, sob* and why won’t the wing tip fold over the drummette?”  True story.

After several years of trying I can say that today I have a few culinary notches on my belt. I credit my newfound catering skills to my weekly ritual of using Sundays as my default cooking day. I spend as much time as I want in my kitchen for some serious experimentation. In fact, planning for a dish, or two, usually becomes an all day thing for me.  It starts in the morning with me scouring the internet, looking for the perfect and tasty recipe to try my hands at. Then it is time to head off the supermarket, usually more than one to seek out the fresh ingredients and herbs the recipe calls for. And then comes the main event, where I turn on the music, throw on the apron, light up the stove and get down to work, mixing, sautéing and pureeing various concoctions to make my meat, vegetables, starches and dessert more delectable. I even make more than one meal so that I have something special to eat for lunch and am not wasting money during the week.

While many women spend their downtime at work, looking at pictures of Christian Louboutins shoes or the newest LV bag on the Internet, I am on Amazon, drooling over stainless steel Faberware and adding Tajines to my wish list (seriously, if anyone was considering a Christmas or Kwanzaa gift, I would certainly appreciate a beautiful crafted Tajine). Through my newfound love of cooking, I have learned to respect the power of ginger and cumin; learned not to fear messing up expensive cuts of meat and have even learned how to make Brussels sprouts not only tolerable but also desirable.  And more importantly, I have learned that why it is easy and time-conscious to crank open a can, order from the Chinese takeout or microwave something, it is not always the healthiest, cheapest or even more self appreciating alternative.  Because nothing says self-love more than cooking for yourself.

However, outside of a few friends, I am somewhat shocked to discover that not that many women today really enjoy cooking. In fact, not that many women actually know how to cook.  Okay, I have a few girlfriends that are on Top Chef-status and can really – and I mean really – thrown down in the kitchen. However, I also know of quite a few girlfriends, who can’t even figure out how to turn on the stove properly let alone boil a pot of water. And who could blame them? Especially with the wealth of fast food, deli and frozen packaged food, upscale restaurants that now do deliveries, why go through the trouble of learning to cook at home?  Unless of course you are trying to snag a man and if that is the case, than you might be in trouble.

It may sound like I am just perpetuating the male dominated patriarchal culture but as many guys will tell you, and believe me I asked a bunch,there is nothing worse than dating a woman who doesn’t know her way around the kitchen. I don’t care how physically bad or astute you are in your sexual prowess, a woman who doesn’t know how to burn it up in the kitchen is a definite turnoff.  As my friend and fellow writer Ricardo Hazell said, “Charing, that country thickness would make me think she could cook in the first place. I would be sick if she had “cakes” and “cookies” and didn’t know how to bake real ones. NO! Cooking is a top 5 quality for wifey.” And that, ladies is a hard truth coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

Sure there are many men, who enjoy cooking just as much as some women. And sure if she was on Halle Berry or Beyonce status, a man might be willing to overlook it – at least for a short time period. However, for men, the idea that a woman without culinary skills sparks an instinctual impression that she might be selfish, not very independent and less than nurturing, which is a deal-breaker for any man looking for a relationship of the long-term value.  As the old saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” It may sound cliché but at the bases of any formula is a universal truth.

So yeah, if you are among the single ladies out there, scratching their heads and wondering why you are having trouble keeping a man longer than a few months, perhaps it is your inability to perform in the kitchen, which is scaring them away. Perhaps if you invested as much attention and time in a cooking class as you have shopping for new Louboutins, he might think you worthy of more than a good-time gal. If not for the potential him in your life than for yourself because if you can’t manage to take care of yourself the way you deserve, why should you expect anybody else?

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

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