Monday, February 22, 2010
Why I cook
Michael Ruhlman, cookbook author and blogger extraordinaire, recently posted a challenge to bloggers to write about the reasons we cook -- because "Writing it down forces you to know what you think."
Maybe it's that I didn't really know the answer to the question. Or maybe it's that the answer was woven so deeply into the core of my being that I had trouble finding the language to describe it. Cooking, after all, is tied up in the very soul of who I am.
I don't cook because it's "easier".
Or because I feel obligated.
Cooking isn't something that I do just because I was told I should.
And I definitely don't cook just because I want to eat (although that's motivation enough, some days).
Cooking = creation. And for me, that creative process is everything. It empowers me. It forces me to engage with chemical processes and living organisms -- leavening, fermentation, yeast, baking soda. Ultimately, cooking allows me to glimpse yet another facet of who I am as a person. A woman. A friend. A wife. Cooking gives me the opportunity to bring something new into the world. To create wonderful new things. And to share them with others.
For me, cooking is relaxation. It's about repetition. The cracking of one egg after another on the countertop. It's about the meditation of chopping vegetables after a long day at work. And the hum of the water coming to a boil on the stovetop. It's about satiating that deep ache with something that fills me up and reminds me that life is good.
I cook because it gives me power over the food that goes into my body. Let's face it, in today's world the quality of the food we eat is often in question. Cooking gives me the opportunity to take the reigns and create new options. Cooking allows me to say "no." No GMO's. No fast food. No high fructose corn syrup. No unhappy cows or chickens or pigs. No fake food. Cooking allows me to say "yes." Yes to frosting made with real butter. Yes to locally grown organic produce. Yes to real ingredients that I can actually pronounce. Yes to nourishing traditions that make a difference for myself and my family.
I cook to regain a connection to my food and the human beings who produce it. When I visit the farmer's market on a Saturday morning, I feel like a forager in search of wonderful, hidden treasures. The ingredients I find often predict the meals I'll cook for the next week. And the friends I make along the way are priceless. They're farmers, artisans, business owners. They're people who care just as much about where their products come from as I do. And they're the human beings that I've chosen to support with my food dollars.
Cooking gives me the opportunity to share what I know, the places where I've been, and the experiences I've had. When I pull that jar of dried harissa from the cupboard and mix it with water, olive oil, garlic, and salt, it takes me back to another time and place. My flavor memory transports me to the dusty streets of Tunis, the markets of Hammamet, the ruins of Carthage. But, that harissa also allows me to share a piece of that memory with people who weren't there with me -- my husband, my best friend, my sister, my grandmother. It offers me a segue to share those stories, to relive those moments, and to create new memories with the people I love most.
I cook because cooking leads to eating. And eating is one of the most intimate acts in which we can engage as human beings.
Why do YOU cook?
©BURP! Where Food Happens