Why I Love to Cook

My job involves a lot of paper pushing. My ultimate goal at work, the thing I strive for all day every day, is essentially an absence of work – a clean desk, an empty inbox, a to-do list with every item checked off. But I never do quite get there, and even if I did it would only be for a brief shining moment before the next avalanche of paper descended. It can feel a lot like the first thirty seconds of this Futurama clip (though I have to admit, stamping things never really gets old):

Comedy Central
And then I go home and cook dinner. I take raw ingredients, useless in themselves, and make something out of them. When I’m done I have created a physical, tangible object that did not previously exist. Something I can point to and say, “look what I did!” And then I get to eat it. Not only did I make something, I made something useful, something with a purpose. Something that satisfies my stomach and tingles my taste buds, and lets me know that the last hour or so of chopping and grating and mixing and sauteing was not in vain. It’s also something I can share, and when I do people tell me how awesome it is – and by extension, how awesome I am. I had some Peace Corps Volunteers over for dinner last week, and the praise and appreciation they lavished on a humble eggplant parmesan far exceeded anything ever inspired by, say, a correctly-processed passport application. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

After eating my cooking people not infrequently ask me why I don’t open a restaurant or a bakery or a food truck or whatever. The answer is that I don’t want to lose this. I want to cook what I want, when I want, for whom I want. I want cooking to be a choice, not an obligation. I don’t want it to turn into just another item on the to-do list. I have enough of those already.