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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Cooking Life: Is our Goose "Cooked," Michael Pollan?

Of course I can jump on Michael Pollan's "Cooked" bandwagon. I love this seat. I love the view. The hills rolling by, the breads, the delicious controversy and necessary banter. On his FB page was a blog post about Paying People to Cook at Home. Really?

And then last week there was a blog by Mark Bittman in the NY Times about the health benefits of teaching children to cook.

Please, pass a portion of health and control over our choices, YOUR choices -it's all very good, great-good reasons to get back to the kitchen. The argument over payment for housework? I mean, I think we are all getting a little distracted. I could launch into a large political discussion of the food chains, the huge conglomerates, the bureaucracy,  the Monsanto iceberg, and all. I read about the extraordinary science of orchestrating tastes to hook us - to sugar, salt and fat. Do you think these people care? Are they going to cook for you? They ARE. Don't let them near your mouth. It's sacred territory.

And here's what makes me angry. These points; important all - but still they are sidesteps.

To me - as much as cooking is about techniques and factories and farms and daily menus and health and having something delicious and organic and wholesome and local and green and fresh to eat, it's about the experience, the joy - the heat, the frenzy, the mess, the dishes, and the companionship around the table, and making memories.

After many years of writing and cooking and teaching I think this is what it boils down to.


Story.

What stories are you going to be able to tell if you're not in the kitchen having your journey?

Does the story of Stouffer's lasagna withdrawn from the microwave and set on the table have quite the resonance that you and your friends need? And when you push back from the table, will you sigh to remember this night? This night when the moon was full and the door of May was open - it was a long hard week of studying and working, and now after dinner, nothing has changed, but somehow it just feels better.

Make a memory bank rich with experiences, kitchen time, invest in it, to draw on later.

And even more vital -- build a memory bank your family/children will pass on. A legacy.


It's true. For me cooking is a blessing - cooking saved me. Taught me so many things. And I teach cooking to children and to teens and to adults. And have been for years. I see people who are afraid to touch a chicken, afraid to make a pie crust. What can happen I ask them. Let's do this. Lots of times these fears are born out of a lack of experience. Often the anxiety is over the unknown, and expectations of perfection. Whatever that is. We can't make a cake as good as the one on the cover of that Cake Bible Book. It took untold hours of orchestrating that photo. In short, that idea, that image - ideal, whatever you want to call it  - its not real! It's to sell THAT dream. In that regard I don't think Food TV and all the other channels and Media are doing us any favors. Just saying. There's a lot of talk, but not a lot of heat or chopping being heard at home.

I am lucky to know a handful of  generous folks who we regularly invite and who in turn invite us to their house. We cook. They cook. These people are not in the "business." Most of the time they are just hooked by the simple and old-fashioned notion to share around the table. They came from a background where this was important. Not because someone else told them it was, not because it was fashionable or the latest, status driven bucket list accomplishment. It was a refuge, a passion, and deliciously human to need other people. And to cook something simple, divine in itself. And share the potatoes of life. A little butter. What is really going on with you? I want to help you to make the simplest soup, unceremonious, but true. Flavor that sings.

Great stuff.

A story.

Your story.

Send it to me! I would love to hear it.

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