Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why I Cook

I saw this on another cooking blog and liked the idea of sharing what keeps me chopping veggies, stirring soups, and freezing leftovers.

Why I Cook
  • It's fun!  I can take disparate ingredients and combine them to create new tastes.  Sometimes I'll make something that blows my mind (like, I just made a quiche with salty ham and caramelized onions and it was awesome) and I'm super-pleased that I made that.  It's also a nice creative outlet when I need to leave law-world.
  • It lets me keep control.  I'm totally convinced that when Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "Trust thyself" he also meant, "Don't trust the partially hydrogenated soybean oil."  Cooking lets me avoid all of the nasty preservatives, added sugars, excessive salt and general crap that's in prepackaged food, and I definitely notice a difference in the way I feel when I get too tired to cook (yes, it does happen) and I binge on a box of Cheez-Its (yes, they are delicious.  In moderation).  I never feel bad about eating a slice of homemade apple pie for breakfast or whatever, because I know exactly what's in it.
  • It connects me with raw ingredients, which connects me to farmers, which connects me to my community.  I've learned a lot about cooking in the last two years, and the most important thing I've found is that you can't make a great meal without great ingredients.  Technique can fall to the wayside when the produce or meat speaks for itself.   Discovering how good food can taste, all on its own, is a sensual treat that keeps foodies like me going back to the market to find the most colorful, flavorful veggies.  While I'm there, it also doesn't hurt that I catch up with friends and find out what's going on in my city.  Take that, Forbes Misery Index!
  • It calms me down.  As the dearth of posts might indicate, law-world is a go-go-go, always-something-else-to-do world.  Cooking makes me slow down.  It makes me pay attention to what I'm doing:  dice the onions.  Turn down the heat.  Stir the sauce.  It's a brief, welcome respite in a busy life.  Everything else falls to the side, if only for a moment.
  • It connects me to memories of meals cooked in the past.  I have vivid memories of Friday Night Pizza at home, when my mother would let the dough rise all day and we would top our pizza however we wanted at night.  I also remember the chicken and (big, puffy, delicious) dumplings that took seemingly forever to make that she made every year, special, for my birthday dinner.  I remember so many dinners at my grandmother's house, predictable for pairings so perfect there was no need to fiddle with what worked: roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, leg of lamb and mint jelly, roast chicken and carrots.  Those were labor-of-love meals.  And I remember the simple meals my friend JoBeth and I ate in Paris---dinners of baguette and brebis cheese, breakfasts of thick natural yogurt with honey and granola, nettle tart eaten as soon as we could sit down after shopping at the marche on the Boulevard Raspail.  All of those are with me, and I think part of me longs to create food memories for myself that comfort and connect. 
  • It tastes good.  Dude, I love to eat.

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