Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food makes me crazy

In a good way, yes, food does make me crazy. I love it. Who doesn't? But also, recently, in a bad way--food makes me crazy. I'm careful about which kinds of pots to use, not to heat them up too quickly in case the glass cracks, not to cool the food down too quickly or to let it sit out too long and grow things. I never thought this much about what to do with food. And--I'll admit it--I'm a perfectionist. Despite all my efforts to come across as laid back and go-with-the-flow, I am, at heart, a perfectionist.

So I freak out. I freak out when I drop the dutch oven we just bought in the sink and the handle chips. I freak out when I don't know why my mushrooms aren't getting properly browned but rather steaming in the moisture they keep giving off. I freak out when I don't have parchment paper and when I don't know what parchment paper is, and then I decide that parchment paper is stupid and I hate recipes and I give up anyway. Yes, as well as being a perfectionist, I am also melodramatic. I freaked out the other night because we had been cooking black beans all afternoon and then needed to leave for a dinner party. The beans were just barely done and they were hot. Where were we going to put them? We couldn't leave them out to cool, right? We'd be gone for several hours. I poured them into a glass pyrex and then--freaked out--that the glass would crack from getting too hot too fast. So I poured them back into the (hot) dutch oven. Then I refused to pour them into a steel bowl because I didn't want to get ONE MORE thing dirty--ONE MORE thing to wash later. So I freak out and tell Micael to leave me alone so I can storm to the market and get a bottle of wine. Then I storm back. Then I have a partial realization that everything is going to be okay--somehow. The beans will survive. But really I owe this realization to Micael who is the level-headed one in all of this. I promise him that I will learn how to not freak out so much.

Maybe writing about it is part of that process. I want to learn how to not freak out so much. I'm sure it will get better as I learn how to do what I'm doing with food. But it also means taking time to be aware of what I'm feeling and choosing to be the one to manage those feelings. Especially when I'm facing something challenging and I feel overwhelmed by it. Especially because I want to do it right the first time, and learning how to accept that that won't always happen is a more mature perspective.

The first time we made chicken liver pate, I freaked out. Because we didn't know how to time everything, we didn't know whether to wash the livers, we didn't know how long to cook them or how long to cool them or how to do anything, really. Yesterday we tried making it again. This time we talked beforehand about which job each of us would do, how we would time everything, what we wanted to do differently. We learned from that first experience. It was still tense in the kitchen as I was trying to decide what "opaque" chicken livers should look like, but I think, without doubt, that it was an all-around better experience. And the pate tastes better too.

Who would have thought--learning how to cook is turning out to be a growing experience for me...

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