What inspires you to cook? to eat? and moreover, to read and write about food? Inspiration can come in so many forms and is such a personal thing, that it enthralls me to hear about the way that people find their muse in the kitchen and related to culinary concoctions.
I awoke one morning this week with a sudden need to crack open the duck confit I had made 6 months prior. At that particular moment, the confit was inspiring me to cook and the moment of unveiling was what led me to write about it. Inspiration in its most simple form, I would say.
The more complicated question is, though, what, at the heart of food, led us all to be so excited about food that in addition to feeding for fuel, we truly adore the act of eating, the creation of said food and at moments we are not eating, the love and obsession with all things food related, visual, auditory or olfactory.
I can fairly easily pinpoint that Mario Batali was the first inspiration I remember. Cheesy, I know, that it was a FoodTV celeb chef, but honesty is what makes good writing, right? I hope so, anyway. I was sixteen, and being the slacker I was, had skipped school in favor of my parents’ couch and our new cable package. Growing up in a house where spaghetti existed in the form of dried and bagged and always came topped with canned red sauce, watching this jolly and giant man toss fresh pasta about as he brought out eggs and meats and concocted the most amazing, creamy looking Spaghetti alla Carbonara, it was a revelation.
Truly, I was a couch potato possessed. I got up and ran to the local grocer, picking up ingredients willy-nilly. Bacon was an unheard of thing in our house, and while I remember part of this day like it was yesterday, I don’t remember quite what my health oriented parents said when they came home to a fridge full of cheese, bacon and eggs. Arriving at home I impatiently recreated what I had just watched. Had I ever cooked before? Only if a bowl of instant oatmeal counts.
Inserting that first forkful of creamy, bacon-y greatness into my mouth, realizing that there was this world of food out there and I needed no tools other than my television to teach me how, I was a convert to the world of cooking. In the many years of cooking since then, I have been culinarily inspired by a variety of sources including but not limited to showing friends what can be better than dorm food, travels to foreign nations and various restaurant dishes that I painstakingly tried to imitate to the best of my ability.
Recently, I found another source of inspiration, as I set up my twitter account (gastrognome, if you’d like to say hi), I learned of millions of other food oriented tweeters (ha! That word still sounds funny). I put the question out to my followers, what inspires you to cook? Many answers were husbands, wives and mothers, but few others that took it out of the family and mentioned television. But then, as I scanned my recent tweets I saw someone mentioning making dumplings. Hmm, I thought. I have all the stuff to make that just now. And on I moved, to a new form of media inspiration.