Don’t Cook Your Meals, Assemble Them

Having grown up with two working—and exhausted—parents, most of my meals were of the “just add water” school of cooking. I graduated and moved to the city, where my meals were bought on a card paid for by my tuition. Nights were kebabs and pizza eaten on street corners. I spent some time in Italy, living at a convent to save some money. Their meals were simple. Roasted chicken and cuts of ham. Looking back, I do not remember desserts (perhaps sugar was considered sinful?), but I do remember always keeping a handful of change in the drawer of my bed stand for the vending machine. I had a golosi di dolce, even then at nineteen.

You see, I did not grow up with a refined palate; and so, as I developed a love for all things cookery, I had to start by instinct. I must also confess that I’m terribly lazy. Even the most delicious meals I make now never take more time than they need to. This is why I follow a simple rule for menus: don’t fuss about it. Assemble the dinner, but don’t try to cook it.

We’re inundated with perfection these days. It’s a plague, really. Scroll through your Instagram and see how many plates of food have the perfect basil leaf cocked cheekily on the perfect forkful of pasta. These meals we create to show others never taste as satisfying as they look. I would be frustrated to create a meal like this.

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