There’s always something electric about the day before a holiday weekend. . .the air is thick with anticipation of what time they’ll let us leave…your desire to work, when so many others are already off, is pretty much nil. It’s akin to the way the last day of school felt, in my opinion. I feel like a kid today, clad in jeans and my Veer “I draw pictures all day” t-shirt, streaming some good tunes through Pandora and crossing items off my to do list that have carried since Monday. I’m ready for this weekend and feel that I’ve earned my respite this week.
Last night, as I was whipping up our evening meal, I remembered how much I enjoy cooking. Seriously. I enjoy providing nourishment for those I love. I think in terms of food quite often. I think how cooking is an art and baking is a science. . .and how I’m definitely an artist rather than a scientist (this holds true in every aspect of my life). . .I got home around 7 last night and we were sitting down to a meal of tilapia, couscous and salad within 30 minutes. Complete with homemade vinaigrette and a chilled bottle of Virginia Chardonnay. No fuss, nothing complicated, just a lot of flavor. As I’m chopping and mincing and dicing the ingredients for Easy Tilapia with Wine and Tomatoes, I’m realizing that I don’t ever measure or weigh or count. . .I approximate, eyeball and taste. This is what a cook does. Baking involves chemistry and exactness and patience. Cooking is in the same vein as an Jackson Pollock painting. Throw all of your culinary colors out there and an interesting texture is achieved. It doesn’t always work out, but you learn through trial and error. I can whip up a tasty and simple salad dressing with three ingredients from my refrigerator door plus salt/pepper and olive oil. I can dress up a meal by stepping out my front door and harvesting flat leaf parsley or basil from my herb garden. These are all things I suppose I take for granted. My somewhat innate ability, although a lot of it is learned, to make a meal out of nothing. To know what tastes good together and what doesn’t. It’s a skill that, quite frankly, I should be doing something more with. . .instead of doing what I do for a living. But I’ve always been of the mindset that you’ll grow disenchanted with your passions if you get paid for them. . .I don’t have room in my brain for the overlapping of job and pleasure. Not that my daily job isn’t fun. . .quite often it is. But it’s not my passion.
Cooking relaxes me. It’s my zen garden, my labyrinth, my choose your own adventure book. It’s something I can do with my eyes closed (although why would I want to, it’s such a stimulating activity). . .and something I learn from daily. My comprehension of flavor and texture is what makes me able to tell you that at some point next week I would really like to have a rare roast beef sandwich on rustic italian bread with arugula, red onion and a spread of boursin cheese. Really. I’ve written that into the menu for next week. That specific of an idea just popped out last night.
Somewhere along the way I missed my calling. I make people in my office hungry on a regular basis with the way I talk about food. They say my eyes light up when I’m discussing what I made for dinner the night before. I’m not sure I hold the same spark for my design job. I try to fold that inspired mindset into ads when I’m creating. . .and sometimes it works, but advertising design is never going to be the same as food/cooking in my head, no matter how many parallels I try to draw.