Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Fundamental Difference

   Two hours of relatively unsuccessful job searching can beat a person down.  I've applied to about 20 different jobs in the past week and a half and I am only [barely] partially qualified for any of them.  Times like this make you realize how important it is to be certified in something:  medical technician, x-ray technologist, physical therapy.... It seems that a bachelor's degree in microbiology is absolutely useless.  Which may be the irony of my life because one of the deciding factors for me going into science was the abundance of jobs available.  Then again, we all know how different things were four years ago.  As soon as I am finished typing this, I am going to make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for my dad.

   Cooking and baking allow for me to have complete control.  I can make it taste the way I want.  I dictate the texture, the amount, the size, and the happiness.  Happiness?  Yes.  I know cooking makes me happy.  Likewise, traveling makes my incredibly happy, but cooking is a lot less expensive.  It makes me forget all the horrible things in the world, and I know that [at least some] people are very happy--giddy, even--when they eat my food.  I don't like to think of myself as a control freak, but in reality, I am.  Especially when it comes to my kitchen.

   Eating is another source of nearly pure happiness.  People talk about comfort food, and for me all food is comfort food:  sushi, ravioli, fish tacos, chili, garlic bread, cheesecake.  Everything that is worth eating is comforting in some way.  But there is a distinct, fundamental difference to the happiness and pleasures gained from cooking verses eating.

   Anthony Bourdain (one of my biggest idols and inspirations) sums up the difference beautifully at the end of his essay "Pure and Uncut Luxury".  The passage refers specifically to professional chefs, but I feel it is applicable to anyone who seriously enjoys and appreciates all the various aspect of creating, finding, living, and eating food.
   ".... Give yourself over to the experience.  And enjoy.
   Cooking professionally is a dominant act, at all times about control.
   Eating well, on the other hand, is about submission.  It's about giving up all vestiges of control, about
entrusting you fate entirely to someone else.  It's about turning off the mean, manipulative, calculating, and shrewd person inside you, and slipping heedlessly into a new experience as if it were a warm bath.  It's about shutting down the radar and letting good things happen.  What that happens to a professional chef, it's a rare and beautiful thing.
   Let it happen it you."

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