If you ever try looking up quotes about cooking, you will soon find that a few certain words are most often closely associated with food. You might think these words would be along the lines of “delicious”, “savory”, or “sizzling”, but surprisingly, this is not the case. The terms I have found to be most associated with cooking are as follows: “art”, “soul”, and “craftsmanship”. From the context of most cooking quotes you would think they were referring to sculpting a statue for the Louvre rather than cooking dinner for a family. Yes, the spiritualization of cooking is absolutely astonishing. Apparently, food can bring you closer to family members, give you a more gracious spirit, make you an artist, relieve stress, and even snag you a man!
However, I have never truly understood this immaterial connection to cooking people talk about. It's not a skill that came naturally to me, and my shaky beginnings were nearly enough to discourage me forever, had not my indelible love of eating driven me onward. My early cooking attempts included a Betty Crocker recipe for cookies that called for finely grated orange rind. My interpretation of these instructions was cutting chunks of the bitter rind up and throwing them into the cookies. I was unable to get anyone else in my family to eat the finished product, but I choked down a few, trying to convince myself they were not that bad.
This trend toward bad food continued and was only made worse by the blind spot I seemed to have when it came to reading the measurements of ingredients and the fact that I believed I knew better than any recipe writer. Many batches of cookies were ruined by switching the measurements of the salt and baking soda, or mistaking “tablespoon” for “teaspoon”. I once baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but they were deemed inedible when we smelled a strange oder coming out of them. Turns out I had used rancid flour that had expired two years ago which mom had been saving for art projects like paper mache and playdough. In my defense, she did store it in the kitchen cupboard. Since then, however, I always check the expiration dates on flour before I use it.
Another time I accidentally lit a stick of butter on fire... that was the day I learned that foil wrappers do not belong in the microwave. It was very scary, and I was so flustered when it happened I ran into the livingroom to look for water rather than the kitchen or bathroom. Thankfully mom quickly got it under control. I have also almost lit the oven on fire on multiple occasions, and have had a flame leap out of a toaster I was using.
One of the worst-tasting mistakes I have made in the kitchen happened when I was making a dinner which included strawberries sprinkled with “sugar”. My little sister, Meghan, took one bite of the strawberries and, with horrified look on her face, ran to the sink and began to rinse her mouth out with water. At the exact same moment, I took a bite, ran to the sink, and began furiously rinsing my mouth out as well. As it turns out, I had mistaken our unmarked salt container for sugar and, in case you didn't already know this, Strawberries doused in salt are disgusting.
About two years ago, mom decided it was time for me to learn how to cook. And by “cook” I mean consistently create edible food. She assigned me to make lunch every day and, as time wore on, various dinners and breakfasts as well. Though I still haven't found a spiritual love for cooking, it has certainly gotten easier. Some reputations are difficult to live down, however, and my family still laughs at me sometimes, but it is all in good humor, and is usually over a delicious meal of of my specialties of enchiladas, goulash, pork chops, or peanut butter cookies.