Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why I Cook

The other day I was noodling around on the computer, checking out some of my favorite websites looking for inspiration and ideas. I usually wind up clicking on links and getting lost somewhere, dreaming up amazing dishes that are too complicated to execute in our little kitchen. Anyway, I found myself at http://blog.ruhlman.com/ not a blog I check out often enough, as I have enjoyed many of his books. So, he posed the question "why do you cook?" I have to admit I kinda passed over it at first. But, then I got to thinking that it might make an interesting post (and challenging for Rob). I think Rob really excels when he's put to the test. So, as I write I'm wondering what sort of images he will come up with.

So, here goes...
Cooking is not so much what I do as it is who I am. It's something that I feel I was born with. Like the color of your eyes, not something I have a choice about. Some people get into the discussion of whether cooking is an art or a craft. I like to joke that it's a disease that I was born with. I see how that could sound negative or dramatic and really, I love what I do. The only negative comes in that sometimes I can't get away from it if I try. Like going on a well deserved vacation and spending early mornings in the markets salivating over local products that I have no means to cook (oh woe is me). Or, getting home from work at 2 AM and feeling the need to cook an elaborate dinner, or produce the ultimate sandwich( I know, you feel terrible for me don't you?) By the way look for the ultimate sandwich as a future post. But, to take a step away from all that and really look at the question, I think it comes down to one word, Pleasure. The simple act of cooking and eating are surrounded by pleasure at every turn. It starts with just thinking about what to cook. Then going to the market or the garden and choosing the products. I love to be able to touch the food that I am going to cook, to experience the smells and colors of the raw products. Then there is the joy and magic in transforming these items into a meal. That can come from simply caramelizing an onion, turning the acrid bulb into sugar on steroids or combining flavors to produce an explosion on the palate. As much pleasure as I receive from enjoying food that I have prepared for myself, even more is derived from the pride of watching people enjoy the food that I have prepared for them. The pinnacle, however, is to do the shopping, prep, and final execution and then sit down, and enjoy the food, drink, and conversation with a group of family and friends. Instant gratification, albeit in a slow food kind of way.

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