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through submission there is freedom

  • Aug. 10th, 2011 at 7:48 PM
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There was a character on Sesame Street when I was a kid called, Don Music. He was a composer/musician who would get stuck trying to write a song and he would have a complete and utter breakdown about it. He would be convinced that he would NEVER EVER get it right. He would add to the dramatics by banging his head on the keyboard of his piano. I sometimes joke that living with one of my kids is a bit like living with Don Music. The truth of the matter is that in the first ten years that I cooked, I was Don Music. I was a rather wound-up kid. Mother would say, "Sweet lord you were a perfectionist." If I didn't get something right I would offer up a scene that would make Sarah Bernhardt seem like she was William Hurt in terms of emoting. There would be a great flow of tears, gnashing of teeth and rending of oven mitts. Often things would end up saved in some fashion or another. Often it was after my Mother had talked me down from the walls. "CALM DOWN DAMMIT. The cake is uneven, it isn't poisonous. For Christ's sake if you keep this up I won't let you near the stove ever again."

I started playing in the kitchen at a very young age. I was about five or so when I first learned to cook scrambled eggs. I am honest that I was a picky eater (not unlike many children) and I had a whole host of food phobias. I will admit that to this day chopped up raw onions on/in anything kind of ruin a dish for me. I can handle it with more grace now. We do not need to discuss the battles I had with my Mother regarding Beef Stroganoff. (It was one of the few instances where I broke the woman's will and she stopped serving it because of what would ensue. On my end it was a texture issue. It would make me gag.) Half of the appeal of cooking was having control. I could control what was being served. I could have all things I preferred to eat. Like any perfectionist I was keen on control. I think one of the hardest parts was learning that to follow directions. I had to follow the rules of chemistry if I wanted a certain desired effect. Once one understands things like ratios, why certain ingredients play well or don't play well with each other -you can venture off the path a bit and maybe create something a little different or unusual. I will freely say that it took me a number of years to given in to the fact that I needed to follow the recipe if I wanted to get it right. I wanted dishes to just appear lovely and perfect on the first go. Often that didn't happen. I had to learned to pause, to pay attention and to listen. It was a struggle. Over time I began to see what was going on. Again I have my Mother to thank for this. She would point out what worked and what I might change next time. She gave gentle lessons in math and science. I wasn't an enthusiastic student of math and some science in school but I think I gained a great deal from her. Yes I may have failed math classes in high school but somehow I am able to apply all kinds of things to dinner. Over time I would learn to forgive myself a little more if something wasn't as I had anticipated (and really that took until I was twenty) and it was then I truly began to learn how to cook.

The people I really like to talk to about food (besides my family, because I am lucky to be related to via blood, marriage or choice to people who love to eat, make things and share it with others) are those who aren't waxing poetic about sourced salt or what is true umami. I like the people who may make dinner but are sometimes a little hesitant about something like polenta or making and frosting a cake from scratch. It is such fun to encourage someone to be a little dangerous in the kitchen. These are the people I am learning more and more from these days. It is kind of a second go-around at education in the kitchen. While I am sporadic in writing things and sharing recipes, I keep thinking about how to explain things to someone else. There is the basic formula/method for creating a dish, there is the science/math and there is the encouragement. Now I am learning how to do it so that someone else doesn't have a meltdown in the kitchen.
From my end I am experiencing a sort of sea-change into something rich and strange.

Comments

cutebutpsycho99 wrote:
Aug. 11th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
DON MUSIC! HIM! I LOVE HIM.

He describes so many people and their passions perfectly. I'm going through a writing funk right now and I swear, I nearly pulled a Don Music about twenty minutes ago.

And this is me waxing sentimental, but you have helped encourage me to step beyond boundaries regarding cooking. I know I've slammed you with questions left, right, up and down regarding texture, flavor, taste and what-not, but it's also given me a sense of security knowing that I've got someone to talk to about stuff like this. And someone who's like "JUST TRY IT. WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?"

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