Ahhh... the smell of toasted coconut filling your house on a late Sunday morning. The Splendid Table podcast is on in the background, and slippers are on your feet. The clouds are telling you that the kitchen is the place to be, and the promise of something sweet fills the air.
There's been a lot of discussion going on lately in the culinary world, thanks to this on-stage moment with Michael Ruhlman and Karen Page (here's the video clip), about this idea that we have no time to cook. Is it true? Or has the convenience industry convinced us that it's true for their benefit? Honestly, I don't know. It's probably both. But what I do know is that the ability to cook-- to bake a batch of cookies, to shake a simple salad dressing, to fry an egg-- is such a gift. I can't think of a more influential factor on the "Quality-O-Life Meter" than food.
I noticed that while I was making these macaroons, following a very simple (and very good) recipe on the back of the Baker's Angel Flake Coconut bag, a thought ran through my head like the occasional passing car on a neighborhood street: Am I doing this right? Am I doing this right? Am I doing this right?
It's true, after 10 years of professional cooking experience in some very classy places, after a culinary degree, after a whole lotta years cooking at home, I still often wonder, Am I doing this right?
If I could tell my friends who claim they can't cook, one thing, it would be this: lighten up.
Saying "I can't cook," after a few failed attempts, is like sitting in front of a piano for the first time, and throwing up your hands because you can't play Bach. Practice doesn't necessarily make perfect. We're humans. We make mistakes. We over-salt the sauce, and forget about the croutons in the oven, and leave the fish on the grill a little too long. But if we come to ourselves with a little compassion, allowing the occasional car of insecurity (Am I doing this right??) to roll down the street with nothing more than a compassionate glance...cooking can be one of the most wonderful, and lasting gifts in a person's lifetime. A teacher. A lover. A comfort. A healer. A giver.