This pretty much sums up my experience in the kitchen as of late:
"It's supposed to be a big adventure but it just turns out to be a lot of meltdowns," says Julie's husband, as she is flipping out over a failed cooking attempt made in her tiny NYC kitchen.
I think that's me. I do that.
Cooking is something I am very passionate about, and I suppose suffering over one's "art" is par for the course. But sometimes I have to step back and realize, why do I let something I enjoy so much make me totally bat shit crazy? If things don't go my way, I am neurotic, frantic, and irritable. I have cried into a mixing bowl. I'm that person who would rather throw away a fallen souffle then have someone eat it.
I guess it is because ... I want to be great at something. And like most of my fair-weather interests, my idealistic, high standards and imagination is usually stifled by my lack of patience and technique. So instead, I am just okay at lots of things.
But I have always felt that cooking would be different. I still think it is. Cooking has been a good friend, although we've had our ups and downs. Right now could be one of those downs.
These days, I have began to to recognize cooking as Crystal Nesmith, the much-adored cool kid from grade school which I later discovered to be two-faced and impossible to impress.
This cooking, she is a real piece of work. One day she'll have me feeling relaxed, comforted and completely content with my life. But in an instant, she'll rear around with ears steaming and mouth foaming to accuse, "Failurrrrre!" Or sometimes, she'll just gargle the sound, "Blechhhh."
Practice makes perfect, I am told. Perhaps that is why Julie Powell decided to cook and document all 536 recipes from Julia Child's cookbook in 365 days. I wonder if she feels great. If anything, she has a book and a movie to show for it.
I am not surprised that Julia Child inspired someone to take on such a challenge. My favorite thing about Julia Child is that she didn't really start cooking until she was 37. She was an American in Paris, who was very bored, who fell in love with French Cuisine, who wanted to feed her husband. Now she is a legend and she has showed us that it is never too late to be great at something.
From Julie's blog:
Who knows how it happens, how you come upon your essential gift? For
this was hers (Julia Child's). Not the cooking itself so much – lots of people cook
better than Julia. Not even the recipes – others can write recipes.
What was Julia’s true gift, then? She certainly had enormous energy,
and that was a sort of gift, if a genetic one – perhaps the one thing
about her you can pin down on the luck of the draw. She was a great
teacher, certainly – funny, and generous, and enthusiastic, with so
much overbrimming confidence that she had nothing to do with the
surplus but start doling it out to others. But she also had a great
gift for learning. Perhaps that was the talent she discovered in
herself at the age of 37, at the Cordon Bleu School in Paris – the
thirst to keep finding out, the openness to experience that makes life
It's a lot like my Dad. All this being great business. After 35 years of botched attempts at selling things (cars, cable, home security systems), he's finally left the rat race for his dream job. He's opening his own little diner down on Rough River. He also loves to cook and eat, and ever since I was a little peanut, he told me of his plans to open a diner on a waterfront somewhere, where he'd serve up chicken wings and pizza pies and sub sandos. Now he is almost 60. Hitting rock bottom just isn't so bad if you don't have far to fall. No savings, no retirement, but he still has that plan and he's trying to make it happen. I hope that it is great. It would be nice to spend some weekends cooking along side my Dad, serving daily specials to fishermen sitting at red-checkered tables.