Bake Off Shmake Off, says Anna Hart - she can't cook and while takeaways exist, has no plans to learn...
Every Tuesday night, Britain gets comfy on its collective sofa and tweets about custard, cake and cobs in front of the Great British Bake Off. I'm there too, because I hate being left out, but deep down I feel like I don't belong. Because in a world full of self-professed foodies, I stand alone as a Crap Cook.
I have not used an oven in over eight years. I know this because I have lived in four different flats in this time, and each time we moved, I would say to my boyfriend, 'I am not cleaning the oven, because I have never used it.' This was no lie: I still don't know what all the buttons and funny little zig-zags mean.
Don't get me wrong: I still EAT. I can make food that's healthy and palatable, normally on the hob. Stir-fries, soup, pasta and sauce. The stuff we all ate as students. But I never progressed, and the world left me behind.
The thing is, this used to be normal. Our parents' generation would consider a stir fry rather fancy, ditto anything with pesto. But thanks to Jamie and Nigella, Masterchef and Bake Off, food bloggers and dinner tweeters, in 2013 everyone is a frickin' foodie. Except me.
I have to admit that when I was younger, I wore my inability to cook as a badge of feminist pride. I had bigger things on my mind than fairy cakes, and what better way to prove my seriousness to the world than to dine on beans and toast every night? Now I know myself well enough to see that I was using feminism as an excuse for laziness. (NB I am still a feminist! Just a lazy one.)
Part of me wants to join the ranks of people who can host dinner parties, who rustle up batches of cupcakes for parties and who boast on Twitter about their 'mean Sunday roast'. But the other part, the more practical part, just wishes we could all go back to being a bit crap in the kitchen. Because today you can't invite someone over for dinner unless you're doing a five-course 'tasting menu' involving locally-sourced pigeon and some sort of jus. You can no longer show up to a picnic in the park with a bag of containers from M&S; you need to have baked a gluten-free lemon and basil cake, with flasks of honey caipirinhas. And much as I love eating, I can think of a long list of activities I'd rather do than lurk in a kitchen waiting for dough to rise. But nobody will come with me; you're all busy making your own chilli oil.
So please, Britain, can we forget the cupcake revolution ever happened? Can we go back to the days when it was acceptable to invite people and order a takeaway? If you lower the bar a bit, I might just pluck up the courage to turn the oven on...
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