The Cook Within
By Mariyah Gonzales
My dad is almost unforgiving in the kitchen. He cooks with every pot and pan, plates food with all of our dishes and lets aroma waft throughout the entire house. He spins and whirls around the island to the sink and stove, tracking his course with different spills. He never needs any help but sometimes he’ll ask me to peel or stir on the rare occasion he’s looking for company while he works. He always cooks from memory and is a believer in ingredient substitution and flexibility. It’s always been like this, cooking at our house has poured from experience. It has and forever will be sensory. You start to know not by what you’ve read or heard but by what you’ve tasted, what you’ve smelled and touched. You learn by being brave enough to try.
I’m starting to believe cooking is almost entirely about confidence. Granted, a few basic techniques and a seasoned taste for flavour will enhance a meal, but it shouldn’t determine how you feel in the kitchen. You have to believe in your own senses, trust your instincts and expect that others will find pleasure in what you share with them. Much like producing and growing food that is good, clean and fair, this sort of cooking can’t be sped up or learned overnight. Wonderful things take time, so savour the process and perhaps you’ll realize the beauty in every step of your culinary credentials.
My favourite lesson learned? Food destiny. You’ll understand that things will pair in the loveliest of ways, almost like they were meant to be together. Garlic and onion, honey and gorgonzola, basil and tomato; one selflessly complements and praises the other. Unless it’s with butter, butter sizzles with anything and everything (like we get it butter, you’re delicious). You’ll feel like you’ve made a shattering discovery and now have this moral obligation to let us all know. And maybe you’re right; maybe all the world really needs is a little more pistachio and cherry.
No one should be afraid or doubtful in the kitchen for it is the most accepting and comforting room in our homes. It’s just food, it shouldn’t make your nervous.