Some years ago, I invited a friend to a women’s group to which I belonged. All went well at first and my friend enjoyed the meetings and activities. Then we held a joint event with the former members, those who had gone onto the more (ahem) senior version of the group. It was a bring and share supper and my friend brought along a cheese platter.
She said afterwards that she felt mortified. It was obvious these older women viewed her offering with distain. They had all cooked their homemade specialties and obviously thought she had made a very poor show with her supermarket dash of cheese and fruit.
These women, however, were either retired or “Ladies who Lunch,” and had the time to lovingly prepare their contributions to the meal. My friend had a demanding, full-time job; she simply couldn’t do it – even if she had wanted to, which she did not!
I remember reading a book – I wish I could remember the title and author – where the “perfect” heroine is reduced to buying mince pies from Waitrose and then bashing the tops so they look homemade. She revels in being the one they look at and ask, “How does she do it all?” and cannot bear to let anyone know she has not got it all together.
I think I am sometimes guilty of this. I know I am proud of the fact that nobody ever gets a bought greetings card from me; each one is hand made. Yet, surely, it is the sentiment inside that is important; the vehicle is merely a bit of paper, headed for the bin. Somebody here sent me an e-card last week to wish me a speedy recovery from the covid, and I was unutterably touched. You know who you and a big, big thank you. I am all better now.
Homemade bread, homemade jam, home cooking, home gown and home brewed. These are all words that make us feel warm and comfortable and – if we produce that bread or jam – just a little superior.
The flipside of this is that we may feel a little inferior when we buy something ready-made. As we slip a convenience meal into the microwave, do we feel a small twinge that we have not prepared it ourselves from fresh ingredients?
But why should this be?
I do love to cook, and my food intolerances mean it’s important that I cook, as most prepared food contains gluten. When I am ill, however, I cannot cook, and my family eats whatever is easiest to unwrap and heat up. I have learned not to feel guilty about this, and to just be grateful for cans and packets.
I think we can sometimes apply this thinking to the chemicals in our brains. Clinical depression and bipolar disorder are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in our brains. Our brains need those chemicals for health. And, if we cannot make them ourselves, then shop-bought is absolutely fine.
A Moodscope member.