Cooking Is Art That Comes From the Heart
What feeds the soul of passionate cooks?
Cooking can be art. And no, I’m not talking just about high-end dishes created in a fancy restaurant.
Rather, I’m talking about how there’s something magical in taking a bunch of ingredients and playing with them in such a way that a tasty miracle shows up at our stove.
If you get your mind and heart to it, you can transform a dull potato into a creamy paradise, tasteless lettuce into a crisp adventure, and a horrible piece of meat into a juicy, wicked pleasure.
How can we accomplish that? For starters, we have to mean it.
Learning to cook…
Cooking is a skill that can be developed over time. You need practice, yes. But, to do it right, you also need to invest your soul in it. If you don’t believe me, just think about all of the people you consider good cooks.
Quick! Remember their faces. Is there focus? A will to experiment? A craving for improvement? A desire to honor the past but, from time to time, a desire to add new textures to see what happens?
Good cooks are a bit like crazy scientists.
They will do their research, follow the rules until they get it right, and then, when we least expect it, they will add a pinch here and a handful there; they will chop, stir, and taste.
They want to satisfy our old cravings, but they also ache to look at our faces when they make us try something new…
They honor the classics while relishing the unusual.
Good cooks know they will never stop learning. The kitchen is their temple, yes, but it is also a place where new knowledge will forever be welcome. Nothing can go stale there.
…is learning to love…
When we love something, we want to get it right. So, when passionate cooks see recipes that interest them, they study them to create a plan of action. Every detail must be taken into consideration.
Where to find the ingredients? How to store them? What would be the best time of day to start cooking? How to move around in the kitchen? Will help be required?
It might look as if they were going about their days as usual from the outside. However, in their minds, great plans are being developed. After that, it will be time for the execution.
God helps the one who gets on their way.
When they are in this trance — and if we are of no use in the kitchen — it’s best just to disappear. Really.
Few things are more annoying than having in your workspace someone who can’t kitchen dance and bumps into you at every turn. Word of advice: Have nothing to do in the kitchen? You are not even being asked to do some cleaning or chopping? Best to step aside. No, it’s not that they don’t love you. Quite the opposite. Because they love you, they want you to be away, over there, where you can’t ruin the dish they are preparing.
Hope we are clear about that.
Please, don’t judge obsessive cooks too harshly. They are just trying to get it right. They want to achieve the proper combination of taste, temperature, textures, and presentation. Everything is part of the dish. It's not enough that it looks pretty. It must feel right when we get it into our mouths. And it has to be warm enough, but not too hot, and yet not too cold. Also, the salt and the spices must reach the right balance.
Here’s the thing: even when you have made a dish a thousand times, every new iteration will be unique.
No dish tastes the same every time.
There will be subtle differences in every new opportunity. That’s where the fun comes from.
…thorough our art
Good cooks have fun in the kitchen, yes. Their experiments bring them great satisfaction. But that joy can only be overpowered by the look on other people’s faces when they try the food.
Especially when they are feeding the people they love.
When cooks are thinking about creating a meal, the most important variable they consider is the people who will taste it. How to tweak the recipe to ensure they will like it? How to present food on the plate for them?
When we love someone, we want to give them the best we got. For many people, that includes food. “Here, I made this for you. To nourish your body and, hopefully, your soul too. I made it extra tasty so that it would bring you pleasure and joy.”
I want to see you smile.
There are many ways to express affection. For some people, nothing tops creating a little piece of art that will only survive a few minutes, its aroma and taste to be savored in an instant; its fame and memory to live forever on.
So, it might be best to sit at the table with an open mind and a hungry heart when you come face to face with one of those souls. Don’t get too impatient. Food will be ready in a few minutes, with an extra serving of love.