This is why I cook

I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s latest book: Cooked, A Natural History of Transformation. I’m transfixed. I love it. I’m sure you would too.

Photo by Hong Yi
Photo by Hong Yi

I’m learning all kinds of wonderful cookery thingerys. Like, salt any meat that’s to be braised or stewed for hours, if not days, before you cook it. Why? Salt obviously draws water out of things, so this advice can seem counter intuitive. But as the salt draws the water out it forms a salty liquid that then, after a bit, gets drawn back into the meat in a kind of osmotic vacuum effect. Thus making said meat super tender.

But reading the book has got me thinking about why I cook. Pollan points out it’s not an efficient thing to do. We can outsource cooking so much more cheaply and efficiently. So why bother? For me:

* Cooking is creative. I get into a flow of making and building and playing. I can test and try things and take risks. I build without a plan. I just start, then I add sauces and herbs and I feel my way toward the endpoint. It’s like that wisdom: like a car with its headlights on, we don’t need to be able to see our final destination at the end of the road. We just need to be able to shine our attention to the bit in front of us, and steer from there. This is the thrill of creativity…trusting that the road will lead us there…even if we can’t see it all in one.

* It’s manual. It’s hands-on. I roll my sleeves up and get out of my head. Out. Of. My. Head.

* It takes me beyond rules. I almost become recalcitrant. I refuse to check on The Google if I have the right temperature for baking almond meal cupcakes. I avoid using measuring cups and spoons. In fact, I only just bought a

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