Most men are into spectator sports. They might like soccer, footy or watching the Tour de France. My husband? He loves nothing more than to stand in the kitchen beside me and watch me deliberate over just how much pasta to put into a pot of water.
At first I’ll put in the recommended amount, almost patting myself at my steadfast refusal to listen to the voices in my head screaming, ‘WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING??’ Then, I’ll quickly add just a little bit more. Almost immediately after that, I’ll add the rest of the pack and only then will my racing heart rate return to normal.
Call me naive, but having grown up in a Turkish household where a table sitting for five meant enough food for 12.
“You do realise we’re a family of four, right?” my husband will ask every freakin’ time. “I don’t know why you can’t just put in just enough to fill four bowls and leave it at that?” You know what I don’t know? Why he continues to ask me such a ridiculous question after 15 years together and after 15 years of the exact same action. “You know why!” my voice shrills, carrying out to the living room where our girls are waiting for their mountains of food. “What if someone turns up unexpectedly? What if we eat our dinner and we’re still hungry and require seconds only to find there aren’t any seconds? What if I’m under the pump with a deadline tomorrow and don’t have time to make something and pop out?” Hello, my name is Dilvin Yasa and I cannot function unless I have a fridge full of leftovers at all times.
My husband does not quite understand this of course, because he grew up in a household that is the exact opposite of how I like to run things. My first Christmas over in England where his family live, his mother made a beautiful traditional lunch of turkey, roast vegetables and a trifle. Everything, I noted, was carefully measured so that each of us at the table received exactly two thin slices of turkey each, as well as two perfectly roasted baby potatoes, five green beans and a small bowl of trifle. It was delicious! So delicious in fact that once I finished my meal, I immediately went to the kitchen to help myself to seconds only to find the kitchen empty. “We don’t have leftovers in our house,” I was told. “We only ever make enough for the one sitting.”
What??? Call me naive, but having grown up in a Turkish household where a table sitting for five meant enough food for 12, I had trouble recognising this concept. “So what happens if you’re still hungry after the meal or if unexpected guests drop by and they’re hungry?” I demanded to know. “Well, there’s always bread in the tin and cheese in the fridge so…” Maybe it was psychosomatic, but that was hungriest I’m sure I’ve ever felt. I sat on the couch eating bowls of cereal wondering how two cultures could be so different when it came to how much food was being dished out and (in my family’s case anyway) stored after each mile time.
I sat on the couch eating bowls of cereal wondering how two cultures could be so different when it came to how much food was being dished out.
Today, I’m almost 40 years old and I still cannot leave my parents house without several bags full of leftovers no matter what time of day I visit. “Take this!” my dad will scream, thrusting everything from bread rolls and containers full of soup to large casserole dishes full of stews and bags full of tomatoes. “You never know if you’ll need it in the next day or two.” Sometimes I pull up at my own house to discover they’ve helpfully rearranged the boot of my car to resemble a farmers market, all olives, cheeses, fruits and an intense smell weeks of airing cannot quite compete with.
I don’t know when my husband is finally going to accept that I cannot serve up the bare minimum for dinner, but it’s clear I’m a much quicker learner than he ever will be. Whenever we visit his mother in England these days, I know enough to know to always, always have a suitcase full of snacks ready to be ripped open. Just in case.
Spaghetti image via Flickr/Young Liu