I might have mentioned this before, but I have a strange relationship with cook books, particularly monthly glossy food magazines.

I came from a household split fifty/fifty, some loved cooking with a passion – the act of cooking was almost more important than the actual eating. The rest of us (and this included me) could burn water, undercook an egg, create a meal with no flavour, live off takeaway and had no interest in the ceremony of cooking.

We referred to Food Magazines as Porn for Women.

Food Magazines would be drooled over by members of my family with a vaguely glazed and haunted look on their faces. Page by page would be turned slowly, as each detail was hungrily devoured. Certain pages would be fingered over and over till they were well thumbed and the spine would bend generously to the well favoured recipes. I thought it was funny at the time. Now I’m scared of how much that sentiment has seeped into my psyche.

As I got older I learnt to cook, began to love the choreography of mixing and baking, stirring and presenting. Cooking became not just about functionality, but also about aesthetic and desire.

Last night, as I sat at my local pub reading the latest Donna Hay Christmas Recipe Magazine, drooling over the decadent ingredients, I was struck by the furtive manner in which I was reading. I was sort of crooking my arm around the pages, and looking up often to make sure no one was watching me, or had noticed my reading material. I wouldn’t catch anyones eye. I was ashamed, but enjoying it as much as if I was readinga dirty magazine in public – sinfully funny. As soon as my friend arrived (much belatedly) I quickly hid it from him – stuffing it as far into my bag as it would go. And when he asked me what I was reading, I lied and said it was some old gossipy rag (as if that’s something I shouldn’t be ashamed of!!??) and changed the subject before he could ask to see it.

Oh the shame, the shame of reading Women’s Porn in public. Perhaps in the future it’s best left behind kitchen doors….

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