Thursday, May 31, 2007

Taste explosion

I don't know where I caught the cooking bug. It wasn't from my mother, whose super-nutritious lifestyle excludes any baking that doesn't come in a box on a birthday and compelled her to blend green vegetables into tomato sauce and buckwheat flour into Bisquick. I guess you could call that experimental or even adventurous, but lacking most knowledge about ingredients and what they do, this improvisational technique was limited to things she prepared from boxes or jars, with the hard part already done. But I'm not criticizing--I always liked her cooking and it never occurred to me that spaghetti noodles could be made at home. Therefore the bug wasn't inherited, but I caught it from somewhere, and I have a few guesses about that.
The best guess is that I caught it from The Food Network, which I caught from my cousin, who cooks with his friend Logan, who makes Julia Child look ugly. Once I started reading cookbooks, I mean good ones, they immediately interested the reader in me with their omnisensual descriptions and glossy oversized photographs. A good cookbook is a pleasure to read--take this excerpt from Nigella Lawson's inanely titled but lustfully written How To Be A Domestic Goddess (yes, still can't underline), for a Butterscotch Layer Cake:
"This is the sort of cake that people label 'very rich' but then go on to have three slices with languorous ease. Yes, it is rich, but the gorgeousness is never palate cluttering or cloying. It makes a comforting dessert after a wintry kitchen supper..."
Or this one, for her Mint Dominoes:
"I'm not sure I'd want to bring these out with the coffee after dinner--though you never know--but for a childish culinary conceit, they're perfect. Besides, the contrast between bitter chocolate and sinus-clearing mint is a good one. Even though these are for children, I still use the darkest, blackest, meanest chocolate I can find".
One more, getting a little philosophical about Norwegian Cinnamon Buns and English weather:
"The Northern Europeans...are wonderful bakers and eating these for breakfast on a cold winter's day makes one feel ours is a climate to be grateful for. But then, I've always thought that bad weather has its compensations, most of them culinary".

See what I mean? I got a little carried away, but I think that if I ever need an adjective that goes right for the taste buds, I will consult a cookbook. Ms. Lawson isn't the only author that can make my mouth water in the middle of the night, either. Dorie Greenspan, most recently, described a cinnamon raisin loaf in such rich detail that I had to wash my face in cold water, and by the time I finished reading the instructions for mixing butter into a sour cream cake, not only had I forgotten that I don't like sour cream, I was ready to eat those "pearly soft shavings" of butter straight off the stick with a spoon.
This cooking appeals to me all the way around: it satisfies my love of reading and makes me want to write, my need to make things all the time, my love of food in general, and it gives me a product at the end, an achievement, something I can be proud of and share with others.
I'll say more about this later, but I have another theory about this hobby of mine that I've had for a couple of years, and it has something to do with me facing the prospect of setting up a home of my own from scratch in a new place, something I will have to do without much guidance or help. Cooking helps me feel productive and capable. Isn't there something so satisfying and empowering about putting a platter of steaming food on your table, saying,
This is what I made. Eat. Enjoy.

3 comments:

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

ajalon said...

translation from the portuguese comment...

hi, i found your blog through google its very interesting i liked this post. when you can look at my blog, its about personalized shirts, it shows step by step how to create a personlized shirt the right way. later.

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