Here’s the funny thing – I am not a great cook. I’m no chef, no celebrity sensation, no homemaker of the year! In lieu of a formal culinary education, I attend the slow and sporadic academy of self-taught cooking and baking. I do it to feed myself and my ever-so-patient husband, and soon, my daughter. But I also do it because I love food.
As evidenced above, many, many of my attempts go wrong! My birthday dreams of Angel Food Cake and Ice Cream ended in two pans of exploding batter which then fell and ice cream that required a good bit more stirring than it received… but they were still delicious mistakes, and the strawberries were perfectly ripe.
See? Not a great cook. There have been triumphs, to be sure! And lots of fun along the way as I read and watch and learn in my foodie education. But the “whoops!” meals have been nearly measure-for-measure. At my wedding, I found the mints I’d made hidden in flowers and under napkins… the first time I attempted gravy I did not know to skim the fat off and nearly choked my boss… once I overheard people at a Christening expressing their disgust over the cake I’d done for the occasion… last Thanksgiving my pecan pie and its “never fail” crust ended up in the bin as a mass of shrivelled, greasy pastry, scrambled egg and sugar, with a few toasted pecans on top… and I could go on! But I’ll save all our appetites. 🙂
Obviously, I wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance on MasterChef. 🙂
But I still just love food! I love discovering new flavor combinations and textures. Nothing clears my head quite like baking up a cake or bread. I’m passionate about food, and many of my happiest memories – Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, birthdays, weddings, barbecues, even jobs I’ve held – largely involve food. I’ll admit, I’d love to attend a culinary institute, and almost did instead of college, but as that is not in the cards right now, I am furthering the homeschooling of my youth through cookbooks and tv shows. And I AM learning.
The most significant thing I’m learning these days, though, is more about the ethics of food, the criminal waste of food, and the future of our tastebuds as well as our waistlines if we continue to settle for less. It’s been a real revelation to me to discover how many people don’t know how to cook – AT ALL! But even more than that, it occurred to me the other day that I could cook an entirely homemade meal and still have it chock-full of foreign ingredients such as emulsifiers, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and so on. We can all see the crazy ingredients listed on a package and choose not to buy it… but what about raw chicken? The only ingredient listed is chicken, but what went into that bird? It’s almost too much to even comprehend. And do I want to continue to just ignore these nagging questions and keep buying things I don’t really know about just because they’re cheap?
I think you’ll be hearing more from me about this in future… and I’m not ready to go all-organic all the time, at least not yet. It’s just another part of my love for food, I think. And as I progress in my food education, I am also really enjoying this upper-level course that goes on in my heart and my head each day when I push Evelyn through the aisles of the grocery store.
As Michael Pollan says in his new book, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” – “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” How funny – and common sense! – is that?
What a strange place we live in, this world of today!