I’m an unabashed foodie, something I’ve yet to delve into at length on this blog—probably because I wanted to appear well-rounded, interested in other subjects. And I am. To a point.
But once talk turns to truffle-making technique, salt (with which I have an intense and ongoing love affair) or olive oil, all bets are off. I become a singularly focused conversational missile, only able to talk about all things culinary. Tuna steak preparation, that new restaurant downtown, my latest green market find—I can offer a more learned opinion on any of these topics than I can about health care reform, which I realize is nothing to be proud of.
I started thinking about the power of cooking and great food last night after dinner—two of our dear friends cooked an amazing, thoughtful meal and brought it to our home. (Everyone should have friends like these.) Food, like sports or even politics, has the ability to stir up passions within people. It offers connection and comfort, and sometimes, near-death experiences.
Take salmon. Back in the mid ‘90s, I lived in an Oompah Loompah-sized studio apartment that had a cramped galley kitchen outfitted with appliances made by, I think, PlaySkool. In this fraction of a kitchen I attempted to make a fabulous-looking salmon recipe, which involved successful broiling, glazing and proper ventilation—all of which I failed. Miserably. Fast forward 10 years to my folk’s backyard grill in Cleveland where I tried to grill an entire side of salmon. Never mind that I’d never grilled before (living in Manhattan might afford you a lot of things, but access to a barbecue isn’t one of them). I slathered it with more oil than the Exxon Valdez spilled (my first mistake), put it on a blazing hot grill (my second mistake) and then left it there for much, much too long. Like 45 minutes long. That was my third and final mistake before the neighbors called the village fire department because they thought my parents’ house was ablaze. It wasn’t, but I still haven’t been allowed near the grill.
Ok, so maybe cooking salmon isn’t exactly my strong suit, but the point is that cooking can bring happiness, tether people to one another and even mend fences.
That is, provided a team of burly firemen doesn’t intervene first.