I once had a job opening envelopes. All day long. I quit after four days. It was either that or take up a drug habit to survive the mindlessness.
I thought about that experience today, as I was sautéing plums to freeze for winter. I did this last year and the plums were divine. But this year, the skins became quite bitter. I immediately began thinking about what went wrong–too ripe? maybe I used a different kind of plum? maybe the dry year was responsible? would baking be better than sautéing?
Some people think that feeding our bodies should demand nothing more than following Steps 1-3 on the back of a box, or popping something in the microwave for 5 minutes, maybe turning once. The holy grail is to invent meal products so easy they require no thought to use. And we’ve all accepted this as the highest and best objective, i.e., that the best meals are those that require the least from us.
But exactly how much fun is that? Not much from the looks of our mealtime landscape. Lots of meal making misery; precious little enthusiasm. A lot like my boring envelope job.
I’ve found that food and meal making are more fun the more they engage my brain, the more I can learn and grow in my knowledge, the more opportunities I’m presented for mini bursts of mastery. How nice to reflect back, on at least one part of life, and see improvement month over month and year over year.
So here’s to cooking as a thinking activity!
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