2 weeks ago
Funny thing, I came home from work in an un-energized haze due to some lack of sleep and a long week (already). I knew that I had a mound of artichokes to tend to. In my self-pitying state I was dreading the mundane task but rolled up my sleeves and went at the artichokes. A quarter of the way in I was actually enjoying the rhythmic task of pulling the rough outer leaves away from each choke, lobbing of the tops and plunging them in cool lemon water until ready to cook.
On to the serendipitous part. Later that evening I was reading The French Laundry by Thomas Keller (I love gorging on cookbooks!) and the first paragraph struck me hard: “Pleasure and Perfection. When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving towards perfection becomes clear: to make people happy. That’s what cooking is all about.
But to give pleasure, you have to take pleasure yourself. For me, it’s the satisfaction of cooking every day: tournèing a carrot, or cutting salmon, or portioning foie gras — the mechanical jobs I do daily, year after year. This is the great challenge: to maintain passion for the everyday routine and the endlessly repeated act, to derive deep satisfaction from the mundane.”
“Say, for instance, you intend to make a barigoule, a stew of artichoke hearts braised with carrots and onions, fresh herbs, oil and wine. You may look at your artichokes and think, Look at all those artichokes I’ve got to cut and clean. But turning them, pulling off the leaves, trimming their stems, scooping out their chokes, pulling your knife around its edge — that is cooking. It’s one of my favourite things to do”.