Monday, October 11, 2010

Bon Appétit

No matter what’s going on in my life or how my day has gone, there is always something that more often than not makes me feel good: cooking. I think I might be totally stealing from Julie & Julia, but it is extremely comforting and therapeutic to know that barring some kitchen catastrophe, my effort, time, and energy will produce a delicious finished product.

I’m the kind of person who likes to have all his little ducks in a row. I follow most of the rules of civilized society, always colored inside the lines, and would be overjoyed if I could quantify and plan a majority of the rest of my life. Since that sort of extreme planning usually leads to disappointment and just begs life to throw a curve ball straight at your cup-less crotch, I think I find my anal retentiveness can be fully indulged in my kitchen.

I think my joy of cooking comes from the aspects of my personality I embrace and those I wish I possessed. As previously stated, there is that sense of elation I get from the organized and predictable properties of all recipes. Dough rises, water boils, this spice does that, and that ingredient does this. It’s a beautiful science that yields results if one is disciplined enough to follow direction.

I’m no gourmet culinary artist. I have, on a very rare occasion, whipped up a pretty disappointing entrée. But, for the most part, I would say I am a good cook. However, I am not a very intuitive chef whatsoever. I cut corners where a recipe allows and sometimes adapt recipes I have cooked multiple times, but I lack any sort of creativity or sense of adventure in my cooking. I cannot approach a meal (or many parts of my life) without a clear, thought out plan of attack. I know many people who can dive into their pantry and somehow salvage a delicious meal without cracking open a single cookbook. I have recently tried to venture into ethnic cooking, but the flavors, ingredients, and methods are daunting. I made a Chicken Tikka Masala and was calling the friend who gave me the recipe like a culinary lifeline because I didn’t want to mess it up. It turned out great, but I could have saved myself a lot of stress by making a roast and potatoes.

I suppose a balance of the strict, straight-forward ‘2 cups here, 1 pinch’ there approach and the more carefree ‘let’s see how this plays out’ cooking technique would do my kitchen and my life some good.

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