Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bringing Sustenance in Words

I don't love cooking, but I do love pretty much any program about it. I'd leave hearth and home if Jacques Pepin beckoned. I truly believe that anything he cooks is probably a little hint of heaven. Somehow, the way he talks about his food translates to an actual, sensual experience for me. And though I love JP best, there are others who convince me. The judges on Top Chef, The Barefoot Contessa, the Take Home Chef, Tyler, Giada, Nigella... (See, they're my first-name heroes!) I believe what they say about their cooking, and I feel pretty sure I've tasted the food they bring me in words, because of their passion for what they're doing.

Since I'm such a lousy cook, I really never thought about the nuances they get. I mean, if the firemen don't join us at the remains of our table, I consider that a successful jaunt in the kitchen. But their passion is a lesson to me. I've actually been trying to cook in the past few years--not just keep the fires down, and though I'm totally not first-name friends with my spice cabinet, their passion has convinced me.

I want to approach every word in my work with that same passion. I'm really writing this post because I'm so wound up in last night's Top Chef. Close your eyes if you haven't watched it yet--Fabio? Really? I'm not going to recover my equanimity soon! Fabio?

But one of the things I love about that show is the way the chefs are always cooking for each other. They may be thinking who's-on-first in the TC kitchen, but back in their abode, they're making meals for each other. Around here, a meal is a special gift. Even the person in our family who loves to cook, doesn't any more, so actual thought and shopping for ingredients and putting them together is something more precious than Valentine's chocolates (I'm not bitter--he made fried potatoes--if you haven't had them, you cannot know).

Anyway, I'm aiming for the same kind of care and reflection on my work. Each addition of spice and ingredient needs to be fresh. I want to add every element with awareness of how it will affect the reader's palate. And I want to be thinking about that, not just at the well-set table when I'm on the verge of presenting a finished product for my editor, but each day, when I'm whipping up a scene that's the smallest morsel.

Every visit to the kitchen matters.


Debbie White said...

I know how wonderful those fried potatoes are!!! Wish I had some more.

Anna Adams said...

Girlo, come on down! You know how much that man loves an appreciative audience at the breakfast table! :-)