I have always loved to cook from as early as I can remember. I used to have to stand on a chair to reach the stove while cooking pancakes in multiple pans for the whole family.
I was always curious about the activity happening around me as a small kid. I would see my parents making food and want (or demand) to be involved. There was a time when my parents were making deep fried french toast, and I wanted so badly to be the one managing the pan. I eventually won the argument and proudly climbed up on a chair (I was too short to reach the pan without one). I splashed hot oil out of the pan that caused an archipelago of blisters all down my leg. I was never sorry, even though I am sure I cried a lot. I wore the blisters around with pride. I was on my way to being a cook! My mom always wanted to be my influence. She once tried to teach me the recipe to her wedding cake. I had been baking cakes for a while at this point, and I was having none of it. I was measuring out my flour on a gram scale and didn’t want to make some hippy carrot cake. I could see that I hurt her feelings, but my resolve to do things my way too strong. In looking back I wish I had connected with my mom about her cooking more. Over the years what food has taught me is that sharing food and sharing company is so much more important than the food itself being perfect. But I was a headstrong teenager and I wanted my refined sugar and white flour; none of this of this bullshit whole wheat and raw honey. I think it was my moms deep care for health, gardening, food preservation and sharing food that was the foundation for my love of the craft. I also think my rebellion to her rigidity and hippy ways helped me find my own voice and style. I love to share meals with others; to communicate in the deeply emotional language of food. There have been a few times I have eaten a meal, and it has been almost too intimate for comfort. If food gives me the opportunity to be close to people, if they feel an intimacy in the food, than I am a little less alone. I also find it calming and relaxing. Sometimes when I am down or tired from a long day I cook to wind down or reconnect to myself. Each meal is a journey that might start off slow, but then I get lost in the challenges and details and before I know it I have had a marvelous little adventure that leaves me feeling calm at home in my own skin again. There is something that is so practical about cooking. We all need to eat, right? But I guess what really keeps me connected is the desire to share food. To make something someone else will enjoy. I want to give that moment of pleasure or satisfaction. Though maybe the practical need for food is really important to me too. I love the feeling of feeding people. Of giving them something that is so needed, so basic. There is an intimacy in that too. I really thought there was a correct way to cook. To be honest, I was in a phase were I thought there was a correct way to do a lot of things. I wanted vegetables to be chopped in a certain way, only certain ingredients to be used. I was very judgmental when people did things the “wrong way." After a while no one wanted to cook with me, or when they did, they wouldn’t share any of the things that they cared about. I started to get bored in the vacuum I had created for myself. I was wanted people to teach me new things or to share their passion with me. I had built a wall of judgment and now I was alone. It took me a long time to break down my judgments and to create a new inclusive environment in the kitchen. I think this taught me a lot of things about life, but in regard to cooking, it helped me see the deeply social nature of food. That food as a way to connect and share experience is far more important than any other part, maybe even the need for basic sustenance.