Sunday, June 12, 2011

18th century brain in a 21st century head

Inspiration is surprising. It involves something like a jolt, an invisible hammer smacking you between the eyes and you had better make sure you don't blink or you may miss it. At least that's how it works for me. And let me tell you, I love being inspired. I love the a-ha, the whoa, the holy crap, even the sound of everyone in the room smacking themselves on the forehead and saying something like, "Duh!" The moment of revelation.

Maybe that's why I'm a sucker for even bad police procedurals and still get all antsy when watching the end of Star Wars.

If I had to shove a label on myself, I'm kind of a stickler. I like making lists, checking statistics. I like having a correct procedure to follow. I tend to lean to the traditional, will absolutely look stuff up in the middle of arguments to see who is correct. Yeppers, one of those. I even still put two spaces in after the period (although I have progressed past the indented new paragraph.) When I decided to go to school for cooking, I went to a pastry school, and not just any pastry school, a French one. The correct way, indeed.

The thing is, having a correct way can be limiting. While it gives a necessary backbone for our skills, it also can provide restriction against the creative, the innovative. I can make a damn good croissant. I've been doing it for years now, regularly critique my own work against my own high standards. I also go out of my way in my free time to compare the work of others. What are they doing differently than me? How can I improve my own technique within the realm of the correct procedure? And always, the beacon is the plain butter croissant. Like those pizza lovers who truly want to appreciate a pizza and therefore always order a plain pie, I look to the basic as the standard bearer. Maybe you make newfangled stuff, but if you can't do the real thing who needs you, right? Right?

What happens when you find someone who can shoot your basic technique the hell out of the water at a significant distance who is also choosing to ignore that in favor of the new, the different, the (dare I say it) incorrect? Can you be so arrogant as to be dismissive simply because it is not the done thing? Or do you see the hammer coming and don't blink?

Today I took croissant dough and stuffed it with kimchi and cheese. It was fun. And tasted amazing. Hell, yeah.


Stella said...

that sounds stupendous. and like something i might have had in tokyo. again, I wish I lived closer...

queenofsheba said...

hey, at least we can yammer back and forth over this here internet. And you know I'm going to try your beardpapa puffs.