Making Raw Things Hot.

I’ve been watching a show on Netflix about cooking, because that’s what I do. I cook things.

Most nights I cook quickly so I can get you into bed at a reasonable time, but the nights when I have more time, when I’m not driving 2 hours round-trip, I take my time. The reason I enjoy cooking, to be succinct, is because I like the artistry of it, taking raw ingredients and creating something that touches on all the spots; savory, sweet, fresh, crunchy, smooth, aromatic, and altogether fucking delicious. It is, in a very real way, edible arts and crafts.

I started cooking out of necessity. I wanted to eat things and I didn’t want to pay other people to make the things I wanted to eat. I was broke as fuck, and I didn’t want to rely on fast food to make all my meals. Or any restaurant, really. I realized that buying fresh vegetables and meat was actually pretty affordable, and making them myself made for better eats for less dolla’ dolla’ bills y’all. I’m surprised, really, how many peers have acquired so many years without understanding the basic principles of making food hot. Either they’re better off financially than I was, or they’re fat. The other alternative is good genes, and fuck them for being better off in the gene pool than I am—and also that means you, and I’m sorry that you have the fat, pimple, flat foot genes.

Chicks Dig Dudes Who Cook

Over the years people have expressed how “amazing” or “awesome” it is that I know how to make raw food into hot food with reasonable success. I understand that most people, at least nowadays,

grill on a fire - itsuckstogrowup

meat and fire and Tim Allen grunting.

don’t have the same skill set. But to me, it’s just living. I buy food from the grocery store, then I cook the food, then I eat the food. There’s no big mystery, except the willingness to eat things that aren’t so great.

One of the first “home-cooked” meals I remember making was grilled chicken on a George Foreman grill on a bed of Ramen Noodles. I also remember it not tasting that great. The noodles were fine, but you can’t really fuck those up, but the chicken was like leather on the outside and wet sand on the inside. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was a start. The next time I would make it better, I just had to be a little less scared of food, less scared of eating bad food, and not be bothered by spending time making all this tasteless shit. Over time and with practice I can now cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people without looking at directions, temperatures, or ingredients. I just do it.

More Than Sexy Chopping

There’s something that happens when a person decides to spend a reasonable amount of their life in the kitchen; you begin to slow down and pace yourself. You figure out time management, multi-tasking, and structural hierarchy all at once. You will, at some times be burning the rolls while the sweet potatoes are raw and the turkey is still in a brine, but after trial and error, you figure it out. Just be prepared to eat not-so-delicious things for awhile.

One of the earliest memories I have as a child is watching a cooking show on television, and then I decided I wanted to be a chef. So I went to the kitchen and poured black beans and rice into a bowl and mixed it together. I was cooking. I wanted to create something for people to enjoy, for me to enjoy, and I want to be proud of it. I didn’t know that I needed water and heat back then, but now I do. I was focused on the end result and not the process, and the process is one of the most enjoyable parts of cooking.

indoor open fireplace kitchen - itsuckstogrowup

If it didn’t look like a mountaineer just shit all over a log cabin, I’d be in for this.

Stuck in the Middle (of the kitchen) With You

When you cook, you are stuck in the kitchen. You’re tied, either physically or mentally to the pots on the stove, the meat on the fire. You’re dialed in. But that gives you time to spend in a social area, you’re in the center of the house, open and available for conversation, communication, community. When I was growing up, and most of the time in modern kitchens, the kitchen is set away from the rest of the house, like a kitchen and a cook need to be isolated, unseen. Recently, kitchens in homes have become a larger part of the house, more open to the rest of the living space, so when  someone is cooking they aren’t isolated from the rest of the household.

I’d like to go a step further and bring the cooking to the center of the house, making the cooking areas the focal point of the home so people can live and interact around meal preparation. It sounds hipster, I realize, but modern civilization tends to be the only culture that doesn’t make the hearth the focal point. I just want to bring it back. Eating food isn’t just about masticating (heh, rhymes with masturbating). It isn’t just about smelling tasting. You’re supposed to enjoy the preparation, the sense of cutting and sizzling. And, moreover, you’re supposed to enjoy sharing this time with others, when you’re stuck in one place, forced to remove the distractions and stand around and sniff the air.

Real Food Real Good

For the most part, if you can cook something using a microwave, then you shouldn’t be eating it. A microwave’s only purpose should be reheating leftovers, not cooking a family meal. When I grocery shop, I shop the outsides of the store. Fresh fruits and vegetables, eggies, sexy-as-fuck cheeses, milk, meats, and wine (duh). The colors and smells and textures all come together to make delicious meals, friend. The real kicker, get this, is that it’s actually cheaper too. So you’re buying fresh stuff that tastes better, is better for you, and costs less. The only downside (to some people) is you have to spend 15 minutes actually preparing it.

Roasted chicken, homemade cole slaw, cauliflower rice with sautéed vegetables is delicious as shit, and it literally takes 15 minutes of actually standing in the kitchen to make it. The rest of the time you spend drinking whiskey and playing video games. It’s simple, just do that.

Learn to cook food, friend. It gives you the energy you need to live and eating the right stuff makes for a good, healthy life.

Also, eat a donut on occasion because that shit good.

 

2 Comments

  1. PREACH. I stopped cooking for awhile after London when I was working and commuting and it felt like our nights of Trader Joe’s reheats were lacking something. With Asher older and in theory less likely to submerge a digit in boiling water, cooking has returned. The kids stand on chairs and peel things or stir things or pour things. Asher thinks this is bomb as hell and stays with it for the duration; LC wanders off first. It’s turned into a connection between me and my son that is archeological, honed in our genes, the ancient playing out in the simple rhythms. The smell of bread baking? That’s life, bud. The good stuff.
    Disclaimer: since little people try to murder each other in the grocery store, we do Home Chef delivery & 2 servings is perfect for our 4 people. Everything is premeasured, so it’s cheating, but easy for the kids to have a job. We’ll start doing regular meal planning again when he doesn’t think the microwave would make a good hat.

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