Pretty Crock Pots Only


A miracle has happened. I’m cooking.

Not only am I baking bruschetta in the oven with freshly graded parmesan drizzled on top, I’m loving holding the parmigiano reggiano aged eighteen months; grating it slowly, vertically and with rhythm. I love this. This hit me as I’m thirty minutes into a mediocre cardio workout on the elliptical machine. Everyone’s so hardcore in this gym. One girl’s on her hundredth sit-up toning her already toned abs, another is doing the splits and a few of the men are lifting weights way to heavy for them — you’d think they’re all here training for the L.A. marathon. And then there’s me.

I’m breezing through my little level one elliptical workout, barely sweating. You see, I have something more important to attend to: Baked Ziti. I’m mesmerized by this plump pretty Italian woman in a grape colored apron and a bobbed haircut, demonstrating the art of Italian cooking on my own pocket-sized, built-into the elliptical, fancy pants TV. I watch her pour red wine into the casserole and stir. I want to stir the crock pot; it’s such a pretty one too. It looks antique. I imagine a chic French woman in heels using the crock pot to make potee champenoise as her fluffy, unimpressed cat Perle’ stretches along the windowsill yawning. If I had that blue crock pot I’d make baked ziti and wear heels.

This Italian woman teaches us how not to splatter the sauce while pouring it over the cavatappi pasta noodles. Just pour it on the stirring spoon? That’s it? I’m almost disappointed with how obvious this seems, and why haven’t I thought to do this? Seems like common sense.

“It’s common sense, really. That’s all cooking is.” She laughs and adds more red wine to the bubbling flavors.

“Oh.” I frown for a second, but then cut myself some slack.

I was raised eating at restaurants, so I didn’t exactly learn how to cook. But… I acquired tastes at an early age for ethnic foods, which my friends eating chicken and mashed potatoes at home every night did not. Even to this day they’ll flinch when I order tongue or steak tartare. They look at me like I’ve gone mad all of a sudden.

I roll the large sit up ball (Is there a proper name for this kind of ball?) and start my three sets of ten trying not to be jealous of the girl next to me with the washboard abs ripping through her continuous spell of non-stop sit-ups. Isn’t she tired? I think she’s doing too many. Now I’m worried about this woman’s health instead of focusing on me.

This whole working out thing is pretty new, but I’m getting into “movie shape” so when we film the movie I wrote, I’ll be ready: a little toned, a little lighter, a little healthier. So I wonder, since I’m getting into movie shape…is eating baked ziti out?

Alice can be reached at

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