“Do you like to cook?”
Who hasn’t been asked this rather benign question at one point or another, and who hasn’t responded “yes” wholeheartedly as well. But what exactly does it mean to cook? Those who answer in the affirmative can run the gamet in terms of scope, skill, and experience. Someone who makes grilled cheese for dinner every night might “like to cook”. Another self-proclaimed “cook” may take great pride in whipping up a bowl of overboiled, steaming-hot “pasta-mush” doused with a jar of blood-red Prego. And yet another may spend 3 hours making Coq Au Vin with Parmesan crusted lemon-pepper asparagus and horseradish mashed potatoes, and be quite willing to assert his love for “cooking”. None of these examples is more right than the other. To cook is to create, and we all know there is nothing more subjective than creativity.
The point is, cooking represents something different to everyone, and in today’s food-centric society, the meaning of the word has become rather vague. Case in point: Rachel Ray “cooks”, but so does Daniel Boulud. And what does Gordon Ramsay do? To contend this assertion would undoubtedly imply that there are various degrees of “cooking” – which is something we all already knew and proves my point exactly. To avoid some of this confusion, these days I tend to cling to the more user-friendly, skill-blind phrase, “prepare my own food”. It’s straightforward, it’s simple, it inheres no presumption, and leaves no room for misinterpretation.
That said, as the newly resurrected Ubereater, I’ve morphed into a creature that is fully and completely engaged by, and enamored with preparing my own food. So while my growth spurt into an epicurean endeavorist owes its thanks to an initially undying need “to restaurant”, my post-adoloscent relationship with food is much more grounded, meaningful and intimate.
What I make is limited to nothing and defined by anybody. I cringe at the sight of a cookbook and recipes are about as useful to me as the Obama administration. I think about what I like to eat, and then make it. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
In her constant search for light and delicious meals we can make during the week at night, Meghan recently threw out to me the idea of a grilled veggie sandwich with mozzarella cheese on “some good bread.” I obliged and we went from there.
What I ultimately created was Grilled Vegetable Panino that included alternatingly stacked layers of grilled red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and slices of vine-ripened tomato, draped with blankets of semi-sour mozzarella cheese. All this, on a beautiful piece of garlic and olive oil ciabatta from Trader Joe's.
What do you like to "cook"?