MCKEESPORT Penn. – Reports have been surfacing from a suburb of Pittsburgh, Penn., that a woman who was cookless for 12 years, cooked dinner three nights ago. It was also reported that her daughter has been hospitalized, not from eating her mother’s cooking, but from going into shock at the sight of her mother preparing food in the kitchen.
Megan Kirchhoff, 23, is said to be in stable condition after the cooking-induced state of shock she went into upon entering the kitchen.
“I couldn’t believe it when I walked into the apartment,” Megan said from her hospital bed. I could smell vaguely familiar scents… I had flashbacks to my childhood when my mom used to cook dinner every night.”
Mary Kirchhoff, 46, swore off cooking 12 years ago and has been surviving on McDonalds, M&M’s, Dorito’s, and cans of tomato soup. Unfamiliar with grocery shopping for dinner items and fearing she would not be able to pull off cooking a meal after so long, she consulted her psychiatrist.
After a lengthy meeting, Mary said, “He encouraged me and told me I could get through it… that if I did if before I could do it again. I had a lot of issues with the whole cooking thing, particularly with the mess it makes. Towards the end of my old cooking days, the dishes just got thrown in the bathtub or tossed out.”
So just what was it that prompted Mary to finally cook again?
“Well, I have a new kitten. She likes to hang out in the refrigerator, among other places. She doesn’t realize its cold in there, I guess. Recently she snuck in and was there for probably about 15 minutes when I heard her crying. I rushed to get her out. I was petting her and comforting her and saying to her, “Refrigerators aren’t for kitties, they’re for food. You wouldn’t want someone to mistake you for a piece of meat and cook you, would you?” I said to her.
“All of a sudden I had memories of me standing over the stove, stirring things and using an oven and adding spices to stuff. It was cathartic.”
Mary says at that moment she decided it was time to cook a meal for her and her daughter, no matter how difficult, how expensive and how inconvenient.
“You know, I just can’t believe people do this every night,” Mary said. “There’s just so much to do and think about. I had to clear my entire day; I took the day off work, took my phone off the hook and made sure my laundry was done. I told my friends and family what I was doing ahead of time, in case something went wrong. I mean, you’re talking about putting an oven on at 350 degrees. My God, anything can happen!”
Mary says the supermarket part of it was very difficult. Not having been in a store to purchase dinner food items for many years, she was astonished at the prices of meat, breadcrumbs and eggs, and the overwhelming amounts of brands to choose from.
“How do people do it?” Mary asked. “And why would they want to do it every night? I mean, you have to go out and get all these special ingredients, stuff like Italian seasoning and mozzarella cheese. Is it really worth all that? It’s so much easier to get a Big Mac extra value meal, and there’s never any waste.”
Mary said she cooked chicken cutlet Parmesan, and that particular meal was no coincidence. She says her brother Kevin regularly cooks it at family gatherings and she wanted to prove she could make it just as good as him.
So how did it come out?
“It was great,” Mary said, “Very tasty, but I don’t know if it was as good as Kevin’s. We will have to have a cook-off in a few years.”
It wasn’t without its problems though, she said. Halfway through dipping the chicken into the eggs, her hands covered in a raw egg and breadcrumb mixture, someone showed up buzzing at her apartment door.
“I freaked. That was not part of the plan. I needed my complete attention focused on the task. I grabbed the chef’s knife on the counter I’d been using and stormed out to the door. It was the UPS guy.”
“Get out of here!” I screamed, wielding the knife. “Can’t you see I’m cooking!!!”
“I guess he got the message because he left in a hurry. He didn’t even bother to drop off the package. Maybe I should have saved him a piece of chicken…” Mary said.
The police did arrive at Mary’s residence, but after speaking with her and tasting her meal, no charges were filed for the UPS/knife incident.
Mary is said to be taking a break from cooking again for a while.