I love food. I love good food more than almost anything in the world: a great massage, a Bach contata, the way the sun feels on your face in the middle of winter. Great food is even better than sex. OK, maybe not great sex.
From time to time, I even love cooking. During the week, I tend to resent the time that it takes to cook – especially when I’m doing it for just me, and it takes a tenth of the time to eat as it does to cook – but there are things about cooking that I find immensely satisfying.
This weekend, for example, I made a new lentil soup recipe: very simple, and pretty similar to my old standby lentil soup recipe. When I was testing it to see if the lentils were cooked, I took a bite and … fabulous. But once I got it into the bowl, I decided that it needed … Parmesan. I don’t know where the inspiration came from, but I suddenly knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that a little bit of grated Parmesan would make this soup absolutely perfect. I was right.
Some people find the prep process soothing; I’m not one of them – I generally find it tedious. The joy of cooking, for me, is in knowing what recipes will work and just what it will take to make them better. It’s as much a creative endeavor as putting brush to canvas or fingers to keyboard.
I have my share of kitchen disasters. Two recent baking projects went off the tracks, although they proved (mostly) salvageable. I should either never be allowed to bake or forced to do it every week. I just don’t get enough practice for it to become second-nature. And I have a hard time telling when something I put into the oven is done. In baking, this is a significant handicap.
But it’s the little bursts of insight that light my fire – and my tastebuds. My perfect man would be a fabulous cook, sustaining my body as much as my mind and my soul. Great food is sexy, as is any creative act. Until that guy comes along, I’ll just have to be content with being the master of my own kitchen domain.