Food is something I love to share. I love to talk about food. I love to make food and watch people eat what I have made. And I wholeheartedly believe that if we as a society paid more attention to our food, where it comes from and how it is made, then we would have fewer of the many problems that exist in our modern life.
Junk food, fast food, processed cheese food products. What? What are we doing? Why, when it comes to one of the most fundamental human needs, are we so willing to speed up the process? How can we be trusted to make complicated decisions about our lives if we starve our brains by offering up only cheaply made and highly processed food products? We’ve compromised quality for quantity and our national waistline shows it. Food should be relished and cherished, not boxed up and tossed through a window. This is where cooking comes in. Cooking takes food back from the cogs of industry. Cooking affords me control when it seems the world has gone haywire. Cooking calms me because I know that what I do, I do for the good of my being.
Cooking is fun. It is rewarding and, when successful, delicious! Cooking is challenging and frustrating. My mom once said that she never really learned to swear until she learned to knit. Well, I learned how to pepper my language as well as my dishes in the kitchen. Like language, the best cuisine is colorful and full of flavor. But the more I cook, the fewer errors I make and the greater my horizons become. I can visit foreign countries while never leaving my home. A nation’s food is the outpouring of its collective soul. As an adventurous cook, I temporarily mingle with the people of other lands. And, as always, with practice comes confidence.
Now for a few words of advice:
One: If a dish fails, throw it out and go get take out! Do not mourn the loss; just promise yourself that you won’t do it again. Everyone makes bad dishes from time to time. Beating yourself up because you failed once only keeps you from trying again. But do try the dish again while you still remember your mistake and take steps to avoid making it again. I did this just the other day and I have been cooking for years.
Two: Get a good cookbook and use it! It can be any general cook book that speaks to you, just make sure it does speak to you. Trust me, you will use it. My mom gave the Joy of Cooking to me for my 21st birthday present and I use it all the time.
Three: Get a good knife. Spend more than you think you should. Learn how to keep it sharp. Dull knives, like dull minds, are dangerous, time consuming and frustrating.
And finally, some of the fondest memories are made in kitchens. Recollections of homemade chocolate cake and a Lazy Susan full of boxes and boxes of cereal; sizzling potatoes, the perfect French toast, and new gallons of milk; a happy, although very naughty, dog gobbling up dinner’s remnants, warm my heart. And I think I won my husband’s heart with a ten pound lasagna on Valentine’s day. Well, maybe it wasn’t entirely the lasagna, but I am sure it helped! Food builds bonds with those I love and fond kitchen memories keep a place set for those I have lost. I hope to pass on to my children the wisdom and grace of those who taught me how to peel a potato or set a table. Food transcends time. And food, I hope, will create bonds between my ancestors and my descendants.
Bonne chance et bon appétit!
Jessica blogs at A Day In Earnest.
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