Cooking as Empowerment

It was a simple moment, and it was only poignant because when of how it made me step back out of myself and reflect upon what had just happened. The setup was simple – Tara and I were thinking about what to have for dinner.

When looking for inspiration, I went to a cookbook, and found a simple recipe fro Turkey Chili. But here’s the thing – it didn’t strike me as right. Some of it was a matter of taste (celery is not welcome in our dishes), some of it was a peculiar spice choice (an excessive amount of cumin).

And so, without a great amount of thought, I changed it. I improvised if you will. I added some sausage, chose spices more in line with our palate, and replaced the celery with more onions and garlic. After the initial reading of the recipe, I never referred to it again. Dinner turned out well, and was enjoyed by both Tara and myself.

Episodes like the above happen all of the time, every day, throughout the world. But there’s an underlying message that may or may not be fully understood – cooking breeds confidence. It doesn’t happen immediately, and it does take some requisite knowledge of both technique and self, but cook long enough, and eventually the kitchen stops being a scary place where even the simplest sauces seem like a mountain to climb, and becomes a place where a decent dinner can be whipped up without a second thought. In essence, the kitchen becomes an extension of who you are, rather than the room where you store leftovers from restaurants.

I realize most people who come here don’t really come to learn how to cook (and why would you, as I mostly deal with punditry and history), but it’s an important point to make. Understanding how to cook opens up worlds that helps ween yourself off of the reliance of the likes of Kraft, Nestle and, and anyone else who creates frozen foods. The ability to rule your kitchen provides us something we human beings love – options. There’s something beautiful about being able to look at a carrot and think of at least a dozen different dishes you can make with it.