Wednesday, April 22, 2009

sustenance without food

I admit it, I can be single minded. I can bore my coworkers with the history of rhubarb, cure my sweetheart's insomnia with possible dinner menus and even make myself crazy thinking about food.

It's easy to get caught up. There are so many tools available to connect us with other cooks the world over, even with the odd hours we keep, and hash out recipes for the perfect lemon tart. At any given moment, there is someone ready to discuss whether that amuse bouche really did set the tone for the meal or the tragedy of an unappreciated dessert item. Scientific evaluations on the roasting of potatoes and snarky gossip. Thoughtful poetry on a chef's inspirations and useful hints on a home garden. And I am so so tempted, if not to chime in, then to at least observe the diatribes. Information junkie that I am, I want to sample it all. I have to force myself to walk away.

The world does not exist solely within the rim of a plate.

In fact, some of the best parts don't involve plates at all. And maybe, if I'm really lucky, they can serve to inspire anyway. The cooks I most admire talk about sculpture and nature, science, architecture, literature, politics, art, philosophy and make hardcore use of their free time. Sure, they can talk food at length but that conversation is layered with everything else they know. More importantly, they bring everything else into their food, enriching it in a way that can't be taught. There is value not only in devoted study but in the exploration of other disciplines.

I guess even cooks need hobbies.

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