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…making lox…

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There are, quite rightfully so, unwritten rules to life. One of them is about traveling. While making Lox has little to do about traveling, it is in the same vein of reasoning…

Recently, I re-visited Italy, France and some Germanic regions that lie between (Austria, Munich, and Switzerland). Only on the second trip did I finally get “it”, and it is pretty much the same “it” you find when it comes to the troglodytic life of spending too much time in the kitchen….

“I make a wicked hummus!”, you say… I look and see your fingers are sans scars and your skin is far too supple and tan for that. You may make a perfectly lovely hummus, but it isn’t yours. You haven’t created anything other than following steps…

Likely, you don’t crave alcohol, know it as the first ingredient in all recipes, a must have primer as the dishwasher is emptied… Nor as the perfect digestif as countertops are wiped down long after the lights have dimmed. Maybe you fear salt, and sugar and fat and worry about things like cholesterol… You worry about things being healthy enough for that precious temple of a body, or you worry that they don’t come to the table quickly enough…

Health is, in my lowly estimation, just like organized religion. It is something that others can tell you the path to, which you can follow and achieve results that never fully resonate with you, or you can find it on your own path in life. We are spiritual beings. We need to recognize that first and foremost. And just like our spiritual journey, much of what we consider as health or healthy, all lies beautifully on the same foundation. It is called desire. We can do all of the right things, follow all of what the dietitians and doctors want us to, and still drop dead of odd and unknown causes. Other people drink and smoke and consume far too much alcohol and fat to be explained and live far beyond imagination… There are no real written rules rules to life. None of life or living makes sense, except to wake up with desire instead of dread every morning…

And really, that’s the lot of it. It is that simple. Ask yourself, do you desire what you do, what you are engaging in, what is in front of you, the people who surround you? Or do you dread it? It has nothing to do with how well you are at it, how adept your skills are, really it is a matter of how much you love what is in front of you, how willing, ready and able you are to give all of yourself to the effort in front… It is all, and only about love…

I have come to love my life, as appalling and foreign as it may be to others, because it is a life filled with things I desire. I wake up every morning craving to see dough fermenting, meats curing, thinking of beers I haven’t tried, all of the lovely thoughts I’ll have while smoking the many cigarettes that are part of my days… I love pondering and drawing obscure things in my head, letting them wiggle out of my fingers through the tips of imperfect pens. I love looking at what I’ve done at the end of the day, wishing that I had more time and energy for more of it…

This tangent has little and everything about traveling or cooking, as I see it. I am better with languages, French, Italian, German than I was the first time… I speak none of them well or fluent, but every day I practice them, live them, think in them. It isn’t about pronouncing them well, or losing my english/american accent, it is about the simple desire to understand that the more of life you try and take, the more it gives back. The wider you open your doors, the bigger the world becomes.

I suppose all of the cooking that I share here is about like knowing enough to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’, ‘please’, wherever I go and with confidence. Part of it is to understand more than I can say. It is appreciation for what others have and do, a recognition that they have a skill I haven’t mastered… There is no short cut to mastering anything. It takes persistence and desire, just as cooking.

And yet it is simple. It is as easy as making Lox, or bacon… Anything… It is about letting time pass, and digesting life and letting the world do what it does. It is about removing yourself from the equation, in cooking and in life. These are small and simple things meant to entice you into thinking about making food, making love with and becoming a part of the whole world, all of the traditions, the languages, the rituals… Open your doors, pour yourself a glass of something lovely and imagine that you have something special to bring to the world, even if it is simply a desire for more…

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