Monday, March 4, 2013

Whooooooo Are You? Who, Who? I Really Wanna Know.

I was standing in my kitchen zesting a lemon the other day, you know, like you do for fun (actually, I had a purpose, which was making the tender, fluffy lemon ricotta scones with a touch of rosemary pictured below)......when something occurred to me. I usually have many reasons for cooking at home, but one of the major themes is that I just plain like the process of turning a jumbled pile of raw, whole ingredients into small, chopped, organized piles, and finally into a well-crafted dish. Sure, there's the odd day when the whole ordeal sounds, well, like an ordeal, and it's on those days that I reach for the cold cereal or whatever takeout menu is handy. But nine times out of ten, I'm in it for the thrill of the process, the sheer crafty joy of transformation. I have many 'personalities' in the kitchen, but my primary one seems to be 'lover of the method'. Later, I read a post on thekitchn.com ('What Kind of Cook Are You?') that kept me thinking on this topic. Who else am I in the kitchen? Who are you? What do you love or hate most about the necessary task of preparing and eating food, and why?

(Lemon ricotta scones with rosemary (made gluten free!), heavily adapted from this recipe)


Who I am in the kitchen actually turns out to be a very complicated list of personalities.

There's the bold adventurer who researches the cuisines of countries she hasn't even visited yet (YET. I'm looking at you, Vietnam and Iceland), always hoping to glimpse something new. The one who's perpetually running late in the morning and can't be bothered to do more than put cereal in a bowl and apply milk. The sometimes-more-is-more girl who dreams up a particular what-if combination of things (possibly even ten things) and just can't rest until she brings it to life, wondering if it will taste as good in actual reality as it did in her imagination (sometimes yes, sometimes sadly no). The compulsive ass-shaker who just can't cook a thing unless there's something loud playing to get down to, wooden spoon in hand (the Beastie Boys, my classic kitchen companions, here I am looking at you). The perfectionist who just can't bring herself to serve it, give it as the intended gift, or photograph & blog it if the dish in question came out lopsided or slightly over-browned (working on getting over this one, actually). The late-night snacker too overwhelmed by a work deadline, nagging feelings of dread, the stirrings of new love, a great book or movie paused halfway through, or plain insomnia to eat anything but random slices of cheese, consumed standing up in a kitchen lit by fridgelight. The mad food scientist hellbent on creating the optimum chicken soup formula, perfecting a notorious challenge like souffl├ęs, or re-inventing a childhood classic in gluten-free form. The comfort-craver who, temporarily indifferent to calories, wants nothing more than to whip up a large bowl of mashed potatoes or gooey macaroni and cheese and dive into it, possible even fall asleep right on top of it (and why else is it that most of the comforting foods the world over are soft, warm and pillow-like? MYSTERY SOLVED. I think we all just want to nap our cares away on top of a great big, fluffy pile of mashed carbohydrates).

The sharer, the nurturer, the striver, the competitor, the rusher, the savorer, I am all these things on any given day, sometimes I have been several of them all on the same day. And you? When you strap on that apron......who are you?

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