You don’t really realize just how satisfying it is to cook for yourself until you have to eat someone else’s cooking — every single damned day — for better than five months.
I love to cook. I love to cook…and I’m pretty damned good at it.
By now, I’ve made decent progress through the list I had in my head of the stuff I wanted to make when I got back. From basic steaks, to Thai green curry, to jambalaya (simmering away as I type this), the list goes on and on. Now, it turns out, I’ve been sucked into a food & beer cooking/pairing contest.
Oh, not a real contest — just a group of friends, doing a beer-themed dinner. Except, like everything else we do, there has to be an element of competition to it. Of course it has to be a freakin’ contest — we’re the jackasses that would make a game of goddamned hopscotch competitive!
Okay, so the set-up: everyone drew randomly out of three hats for their course, for the protein they have to use and for the beer they have to pair and cook with.
Please, please, please…just not dessert, beef and IPA. Please, God, anything but THAT!
Nope, the universe (for once) smiled on me. I drew the third course (out of seven). Now, keep in mind: in a full, formal multi-course meal, that should really be a fish course…but not this time. Nope, this time I got pretty much everything I wanted from the universe. So, the dish:
Hand-made ravioli, stuffed with venison and mushrooms in a cherry lambic sauce.
Oh, shit, did I win the damned prize with those draws! I can feel my friends’ hate right now — it’s keeping me nice and warm…
And to the poor bastard who got the salad course and stouts? HAHAHAHAHA!!!
Err…sorry about that, got carried away for a moment.
Now, why do I like cooking so much? Well, aside from the fact that I absolutely love food (and, yes, beer), there is a bit more to it.
Cooking, you see, is in some ways a lot like music…and like writing. The common thread to those pastimes is simple: in almost no other profession/calling do you take a bunch of unrelated bits and pieces and create from them a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Now, I’m not much of a musician. In spite of my love of listening, I pretty much top out at playing chopsticks on the piano*. But I am a cook…and a writer. There is, when you get right down to it, very little in this world more satisfying than sitting down and making that all, well, just work.
*And, yes, Mom…you were right way back when: I really do regret giving up the piano when I was 11!
To take “Characters A & B”, mix them with “Plot Points X, Y & Z”, bake them in “Setting N”, then come out the other side with a good story? That’s freaking magic. As a reader it’s magic, but as a writer it’s even more so.
Just like taking the worst cuts of meats you can find, and coming out with a charcuterie dish that makes everyone fall all over themselves for more…