Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dear Michael Ruhlman, This is Why I Cook

Food writer, Michael Ruhlman wrote about why he cooks and asked of bloggers to share as well why they cook. This is my response.

The first, and I'll admit, seemingly conceited thing that comes to mind for me is, "I cook, because I can." That's true and not so arrogant as it comes off ... really.

I cook because I love to eat.

I cook to nourish my family in the best way possible. Letting someone else do it removes me from the process of knowing exactly what goes into our meals.

I cook to earn money. I develop recipes and take photos for a living (and write about the process), and that end of it is ever fascinating and ever educational. I learn something new each day by doing.

I cook to remember. There is nothing so memory provoking as the aroma or flavor of a food loved as a child. Nothing. I make my grandmother's brownies or my great-grandmother's brown sugar cookies or my mother's fried chicken to recall all that was good and pure and wonderful about my childhood - even if it wasn't all good or pure or wonderful.

I cook to create new memories. Yes, the common thread here is that food is central to my feelings of well-being and health, and I aim to continue building those feelings in my children and their children. I want them to have memories of love and home and nurturing all rolled into one loaf of bread or layer of cake. The more I cook, the more chances they have to watch and learn and begin to cook for themselves.

I cook to live. Eating is truly secondary for me to the creation process that takes place each time I make a dish. I tell people often that cooking is an art like no other with an instant gratification (or let-down, whichever the case may be) that you can't get by creating with any other medium. Paintings can take days to months to complete. Books are the same. Recordings, movies, sculptures - they all take much more time to create and to be appreciated. With food, the 'yea' or 'nay' are immediate - you know if your creation was loved or liked or hated before the creation is gone.

I cook to bring others happiness. There's nothing else to say about that.

So, I echo Michael Ruhlman - what are your reasons for cooking?


Jaffer said...

I used to cook. But now mom's stayin with me for several more months. Now I leave it to her.

Typical brat - ain't I !

Excellent thoughts Anne. My mom's cooking has changed a little - so I remember things she used to make when I was a kid - but some of the ingredients are not found here - especially in this season !

Anne Coleman said...

Isn't that the way? There are things you can't find anymore, or wouldn't be caught dead using - like lard - and that changes the flavor of many dishes. My grandmother only used lard for pie crust and the pies we make now don't ever taste the same as hers, and that's why.

You are a brat - but I think that's no surprise ;)

Penny Pincher said...

I cook because it's relaxing, fun, creative, and finally: it saves money!

kat said...

Lovely thoughts said...

HERE, HERE!!! Very well written, Annie.

I cook for all the same reasons you do.

White Toast with Butter said...

I cook/bake because I love the whole process.

Sweet Cheeks said...

Brilliant post!