Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Are You Like Me?

I love to cook. Some people garden to "get away from it all" and relax. For me, it's the kitchen, not the garden. The kitchen is a magical place where my troubles recede and the joy of cooking and living takes center stage. If it was up to me, I would spend the majority of the day in the kitchen. But I know that most people are not like me.

I like to take my time cooking. I tend to take the scenic route. Sometimes that unnerves my family. The kids are impatient and Char would like to eat early. I'm a night owl and I like to eat late. Try as I might, I can't seem to speed things up.

When I bake bread, I knead by hand. When I cook a gumbo, I chop the onions, bell peppers, and celery with care and attention. And, of course, the roux takes a good 35 minutes.

No one taught me how to cook. I taught myself with practice. When I was in the seminary in Mexico, I was put in charge of a cooking team that rotated weekends with three other teams: the Italians, the French, and the Mexicans. Why? Because I was from Louisiana and, surely, I must have been a culinary sophisticate. True, I excelled in the kitchen, and I often joined in on the other weekends... just because. And I learned.

Everything about the kitchen fascinates me. The tools and gadgets, the pots and pans, the cutting boards and wooden salad bowl, my wooden spoons... and my mortar and pestle. I have a particular love for my mortar and pestle. Wood. Darkened by olive oil and years of beating garlic.

And then there are the smells. The feel of the food in my hands. I become an alchemist in the kitchen, striving to make the magic with simple ingredients. Eating is secondary. Lagniappe. A bonus.

What about eating? The dinner table is another matter for another post. But, after cooking, eating is not that important. Meals with the family and seeing them enjoy my creation... that is the fulfillment, the culmination of the process.

Yes, I love to cook.

How about you?

[This post was inspired by a post on The Copywriters' Kitchen. Check out Lorraine's post - 10 Good Reasons to Start Cooking From Scratch.]