If you're hungry, it's not you

“You don't have a kitchen? And where do you cook?” asked everyone who came to my house and saw the empty corner. I didn't have one until two years ago. The kitchen was the last thing on my mind when I moved in. I didn't need one. Where there is now a large fridge, dishwasher, cooktop and oven, there was only a small fridge with a broken freezer and a microwave on top of it.

That was enough for me. I didn't enjoy cooking and was never very good at it. Plus, pecking around with food for one was terribly boring. Not much has changed even with the new kitchen. I still can't decide what I should use to improve the final dish even after tasting it. I can handle a few recipes now, though.

“Please pass me the rice, I'll go to the store,” my girlfriend says to me while cooking beet risotto. Simple instructions that anyone can do. “Wow, the wine smells bad in the hallway,” she reports in amazement upon her return. She soon realizes that the smell is coming from us. “Did you really put a whole bottle of wine in it? There's broth ready,“ she stares at me uncomprehendingly.

I think she realized at that moment that with my training in the kitchen, we had to start with something easy. And that she has to watch me. “Do you like spaghetti? I'll teach you something,” she suggested after a while. Oil, garlic, tomatoes, spaghetti, parmesan on top. Sometimes salt, chilli, parsley, and basil for flavour. I know tomatoes and basil don't belong in Aglio Olio, but this is just how I like it.

Garlic oil and chilli (with tomatoes)

I'm replacing old and bad eating habits with new ones. Slipping into bad habits is comfortable and very easy. I know it's about mindfulness. And until I automate my new desired behaviors, I have to force myself. I try to avoid staring into the fridge and eating the first crap the moment I'm hungry. Making quick, good, uncomplicated meals helps me do that.

I've also expanded the variety of ingredients that are easy to work with. I wouldn't have thought how good plain tofu marinated in BBQ sauce with vegetables and topped with toasted bread could taste. It takes no more than twenty minutes to prepare.

BBQ tofu with vegetables

But it's not just about cooking. Whereas before I would spread three rolls with Maya when I got home from work, today I prefer the smell of freshly chopped coriander on plain bread with butter, avocado spread on toast or sliced carrots with hummus. And even though I hated them as a kid, I fell in love with tvarůžky.

With a little effort, I've learned to prepare several easy and quick meals that are both tasty and calorically acceptable. And at crunch time, they definitely stave off hunger better than a bag of chips or a packet of biscuits.