Every kitchen is filled with flames and shards, fire and glass, boiling liquids and sharp objects eager to attack you. Cooking is too dangerous to permit distraction. If you step into that arena without the proper respect, you will certainly get hurt.
But while cooking demands your entire attention, it also rewards you with endlessly sensual pleasures. The sound of water skittering across leaves of lettuce, The thump of the knife against watermelon, and the cool summer scent the fruit releases as it falls open to reveal its deep red hear. The seductive softness of chocolate beginning to melt from solid to liquid. The tug of sauce against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in gossamer flakes. Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions.
Ruth Reichl, Garlic and Sapphires
I need to get back to this. To remembering why it is I do what I do.
"HOLY... This, this is the best thing you've made. I know I always say that, but this is actually the best thing you've made"
"Yeah, I'm pretty satisfied with how those turned out," I say, nonchalantly.
The bomboloni are filled with buttery, salty whipped sweet potatoes (the secret ingredient is fat, fat and more fat) and she's dipping them into a small ramekin of maple cinnamon marshmallow fluff. Pure savory dipped into pure sugar, I had intentionally made the recipe for the sweet potatoes just on the edge of too salty.
"No, seriously, next time you interview somewhere if they ask you to make something of your own, MAKE THESE"
"These are fantastic," she exclaims to the pastry cook who actually made them that night.
The cook gestures at me as if to give credit wear credit is due.
I really loved those bomboloni, I was really really pleased with how they came out. They were me, simple and straight forward, a few clean flavors combined in a fun way.
There are many reasons Ruth Reichl (yeah, we're back to her again) is somebody to whom I look up, but I think mostly, it the prevailing theme through her memoirs, that she, like me, wasn't drawn to food for the big names or bright lights but for the comfort found in the kitchen and the joy of sitting around a table and breaking bread with friends and mostly, for the love of watching the expression on someone else's face when they enjoy something you've lovingly prepared for them.
I used to watch my friends' faces eagerly as they took the first bite of something.
"Do you like it? Are you sure? You wouldn't change anything?" I'd repeat over and over until I'm certain they sometimes wanted to slap me.
Now I sit there detached "Yes, I'm very satisfied with how that turned out," knowing I've created something that is well balanced in flavors and textures, that turned out precisely the way I wanted.
I need to cook at home, to cook for friends and to cook for myself. I need to remind myself that this isn't some job I have because I can execute things technically well and have a decent palate. I need to remind myself that maybe the things I make are a frivolity, maybe I'm not changing the world, but that food has the power to bring us together and sweet treats are sometimes the panacea for even the worst of days.
And I needed to read about somebody else having the same struggle to remind me how much my relationship to food has changed and how much I want to get the old relationship back.
I have a feeling I might need to start fattening up my roommates...