Food for Thought: Why I Love Cooking & How You Can Too.
If you don't know about how much I love food, then you can catch up in another post.
As I get older, my penchant for fine dining grows and my lust for cooking and eating beautiful food every day flourishes. I'm a creative soul at heart. I feel most comfortable creating, designing, and building.
My whole career has been based around design, and marketing was the perfect outlet for me to be both artistic and statistical. It's only natural that food would also serve as a great creative outlet for me each night.
When I first started my career in marketing, I worked for this tech startup. We would work from 7am until sometimes 9pm, getting the company off the ground. I would get home to my tiny one bedroom apartment that I shared with my sister, and the only thing I looked forward to was putting on some music and cooking a nice meal.
While other people see cooking as a chore, and often opt to eat out most nights, cooking was my escape from the hectic life of tech startups. I relished in looking up recipes, shopping for quality ingredients and then preparing a wonderful meal that was beautifully plated. I didn't have the budget to eat fine dining every night - hell, I barely had enough to eat out in the early days of my career, but I loved recreating dishes with the best ingredients I could afford and doing it with intention and joy.
There is something so absolutely rewarding about creating something and then being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor immediately after.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking...
Who the hell has time to try and prepare a beautiful meal after a long day of work and then try to make it all pretty. Why? Who the hell cares? It's going in my belly anyway so why put forth the effort? A woman doesn't need to be in the kitchen if she doesn't want to. I don't have time to shop and look at beautiful recipes, okay? Okay?!
If you don't like or want to cook, then you're free to go on as you choose. No judgement here, and I would still love to be friends. But my take on it is - I have to shop, and cook and eat. So why not find some joy in it anyway? Like Remy from the movie Ratatouile said, "if you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff."
And if we're talking about eating the good stuff, then we need to start with quality ingredients.
Notice how I didn't say the word - organic?
Whether you love, or loathe, the organic culture, there is no denying the quality of organic products. But if you can't afford it or simply don't believe in it then focus on getting the best quality ingredients you can.
I very often don't buy organic ingredients. At times, I fear it's incredibly over priced and (gasp) not truly organic when it's being grown right next to regular produce because of run-off. I've cooked plenty of wonderful meals with quality ingredients without the word organic on any labels, so use your best judgment when shopping.
Now, one would think that having a hobby of cooking and shopping is expensive but I make the argument that it is not.
When you're cooking and plating food with intention, portion size is very important.
You wouldn't buy a whole pork shoulder to make one meal for say a family of three or four. Just buy the exact cut you need or better yet, learn to make multiple recipes from the same cut of meat. Find multiple uses for your vegetables. Sure sauté the peas as a side, but why not make a pea sauce to go over the grilled chicken?
Challenge yourself in the kitchen, and do so with a sense of fun. It's just food after all and there are millions of recipes and videos to help guide you now.
Don't forget, you eat with your eyes first.
This is a big part of what makes us feel so rancy, dancy, fancy when we go out to eat at a fine restaurant. You decide, with your eyes first, that a meal is delicious. You decide, with your nose, that a meal is delicious. You sometimes decide, even with sound, that a meal is delicious, before your tongue has ever even tasted the food itself.
Most often, your memory, your mind, reminds you of something delicious.
I'm getting real passionate here, but isn't that so beautiful?
How do we translate this all into a beautiful meal that can be cooked every night, or at least a couple times a week when we're eating in? Cooking food with intention at this caliber is difficult. It's why chefs get paid so much, and also work so much.
For us home chefs, cooking a couple times a week at home is a success. I typically aim to cook every meal at home, but I'm not always successful.
I like having a date night one night a week where the pressure is off my husband, Chris, and I so we can just enjoy each other. Other times, I'm so busy that ordering some trusty Chinese takeout is the only way to go.
But when I do get to cook, I freaken cook. It brings me immense joy, and I hope it does for you too.
Growing up, food played an important role in gathering my family together. All eight of us would huddle around this oval table, and my mom would cook multiple dishes for all of us to share and eat family style.
When I started traveling around the world in my early twenties, food played a role in helping me make new friends and immersing myself in other cultures. As an adult, I greatly enjoy connecting with business colleagues and getting to know clients over special meals.
I may never be a Michelin star chef, but at home having the spirit of a Michelin chef gives me the creative courage to cook with intention, plate beautiful dishes for the sheer joy of eating beautiful food and connecting with my husband over a wonderful meal we've created together.
Now that is pure luxury.