“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all”-Harriet van Horne
Firstly, I was thinking about love and it’s relationship to the kitchen and to cooking. Why? Well, about three of the recipes that I cooked last week just flopped in one way or another. There was no good ju-ju happening. I tried a new muffin recipe, which sounded good (the batter even tasted good), but after it baked, it was completely and utterly devoid of any flavor whatsover. None. Zippo…which is pretty amazing given the fact that it had about 12 ingredients. I read, after the fact, that it was a vegan recipe. Hadn’t caught that ahead of time and low and behold, I had taken the time to make 18 useless muffins. This is certainly not to say that all vegan is tasteless (in particular baking), but a recipe has to work a heck of a lot harder, that’s all. I don’t even know if the birds went after them once I tossed them behind the garage. Another recipe that I made, and have made other times, somehow just didn’t end up tasting that great. Kind of flat, kind of “meh”. Had all the proper ingredients, everything technically should have worked…but it didn’t. Huh. And finally, the third…a new bundt cake that I made at 11pm on Thursday night (I tend to cook late at night), overflowed in the oven and got all wonky. Tasted ok, but it was not the prettiest thing in the world when it emerged. Thank goodness for copious amount of glaze, which can mask all manner of ills (wonder if that can work on the human body?). My oven, on the other hand, is not looking or smelling that enticing. Monday’s first assignment: clean the oven.
And how does this relate to love? I think, and am more and more convinced, that love plays a big part in cooking. You know there are those times when you are completely focused on your cooking and just in a happy mood when you are making whatever you are making…maybe you have great music playing in the kitchen, or you are excited about a special occasion or maybe you are even cooking with someone that you love… I have found that those are seriously the times when the food comes out the absolute best. No question about it. It’s like the good vibes flow right into the food . And you’ve heard it before…”made with love”….whoever said that was right on the money. Have you ever seen the movie (or read the book) Like Water For Chocolate? It came out in the early 90s, if I remember correctly and it’s fab-u-lous. If you love cooking and romance, giddy-up. It’s a winner. The premise is just that….there is a woman who is completely and utterly in love with this man and she cooks all the love she has right into the food (since he happens to be married to someone else-her sister. Crazy family order story. Big sis gets to get married and little sis has to stay home and tend to her mother. Oy)…needless to say, folks swoon left and right and just about see stars when they taste anything that she has whipped up. It’s magical and overwhelming and makes you believe in that extra ingredient.
I was also thinking about love this weekend because I attended a wedding. It was a lovely wedding and everyone was just bubbling over with happiness because these two great people managed to find each other in this big ol’ world and decided to take the big leap. The Justice of the Peace who officiated had some very sweet and insightful words to say. I think he was actually pretty new at the whole Justice thing, as he seemed a bit nervous, tripped over his words a bit and was also pretty darned young. Somehow, though, it just added to the sweetness of it all. He stressed that love is not about the candlelit dinners and the grand gestures…while those are all great, it’s really about the little things in the day-to-dayness that add up and make a marriage and a strong relationship. And how true is that?
And it’s the same with cooking, as I thought about it. You can have a big bar of the finest quality, most wonderful tasting chocolate. It would be fine on it’s own but it’s also just a starting point. It’s when you start to add other things to it…a little of this…a little of that…stir it….make sure you do a taste test every now and again to see that it’s progressing nicely…keep it at the right temperature…be sure to focus on it….that’s when the magic starts to happen. AND, if you are pouring your whole soul into it…well, watch out. You’re cooking up something amazing.
The right ingredients. The perfect amount of soul and attention. That’s the recipe.