I can’t cook. Throughout the four decades of my life, I have been surrounded by talented and generous people who have cooked and shared their meals with me for free (friends) or for a fee (chefs and cooks). Repeatedly I have imagined waking up each day and suddenly having the proficiency to cook or, at least, a growing desire to cook; I SO wanted to love cooking. Sadly, that never happened as expected. But as we all know, life doesn’t always go as expected.
Bumbi Bali cooking class creations
Even after exposing myself to inspiring cooking classes in such exotic locations like Bali (Bumbu Bali), Tokyo, Bangkok, or even Chengdu, the cooking bug just wouldn’t bite me (although other bugs have definitely taken their piece of me). Eventually, after countless futile attempts, I gave up any pretense of enjoying cooking or wanting to learn to cook. Although relish eating delicious foods, I realized and accepted the fact that cooking just wasn’t my ‘thing’; I had no innate talent for it and I was only torturing myself (and family) trying to be someone I wasn’t. After I made that decision, it was easy for me to avoid cooking, but I didn’t necessarily feel liberated. Odd. Isn’t acceptance supposed to bring liberation in a philosophical sense?
Ravioli with Alba White Truffles
Because my husband enjoys cooking and is skilled at it, I benefited from his talents and craft. However, during the workweek when we were both working long hours, our usual habit was to meet in a restaurant, eat dinner and then come home together. This was our regular routine for almost 10 years and I couldn’t really complain. I know that this is the norm for many people who do not have the time or opportunity to cook at home. The weekends often provide the briefest window of opportunity and, for us, those were the days when my husband would cook and I would clean. I don’t mind cleaning because, to be quite honest, my husband has a bit of room for improvement in that area of the kitchen. Although I sometimes suspect that he purposefully ‘messes up’ so that I take over the cleaning portion of the meal, he denies it. Anyways, that was our partnership and it usually worked. But now, suddenly, things have changed for us…all because of our recent holiday through France and Italy.
Fresh egg pasta a l’amatriciana
I have been cooking consistently for the past week. I have been teaching myself to make fresh pasta and fresh bread. To say that this is a miracle is an understatement for me. For the past week, my husband has been repeatedly looking at me in wonder and asking me, “Who are you? And what did you do with my wife?” When I say cooking, I don’t mean that I have been making anything of particular note. What I mean is that I have been buying fresh ingredients at the market (German markets are wonderful!), finding recipes and making simple food in the kitchen. This is probably a ‘duh’ to most people who do this on a daily basis and have been doing it for most of their lives and relish the beauty of it; but for me, it’s new, it’s different than my normal life routine, it’s uncomfortable and very intimidating. But also…should I admit it? It is rather kinda exciting and fun. How strange? I can’t believe I feel this way about cooking. Who would have thought it? What is happening to me? I thought I was too old to change? How could a simple holiday change me so much? And how long will it last?
Fresh Russian Black Bread (Chorni Chleb)
Because I do not know the answers to any of these questions, I am going to try and write what I am doing each day (I know, crazy right?). Perhaps this phase of my life will end in a few days or a few weeks as will this blog, but for now, I need something to record and remember this turning point in my life.
Thus, this new blog: Mish en Place. It’s a word play on ‘mise en place’, a French term meaning “to put in place”. The term is normally used by chefs to organize and place all the essential ingredients and tools in their proper place to ease preparation and to provide effective and efficient results. In order to learn something new, it’s important to put things in their proper place: to plan, organize and practice. My goal with this blog is 1. to try new things (Exploration and Education); 2. to develop a regular habit (Practice and Commitment) and 3. to write about the journey (Sharing and Remembering). Mishe is a childhood nickname. Welcome to my blog!
BLTA on homemade black russian bread