Posted: 26 November 2008 in Food, observations

My hair is too short.  This is a problem, you see, because my favorite image of myself is this one: I’m in the kitchen, white apron, sleeves pushed up tight, clogs, jeans, flour on my temple, hair pulled back.  This is important, because I live in fear of finding a hair in a meal.  Even if it’s my own, I cringe.  Any hair, really, is a problem.  And so I’m vigilant, wiping everything down before and after, policing the drafts of air, watching carefully as I add each ingredient, trying to ward off invaders.

You might think that I’m going bald.  I’m not, (at least I don’t think I am) but I can’t stand the thought of a perfect bite ruined by that horrible thread dragging over my tongue.  That rogue strand that, as soon as you realize what it is, becomes a rope, impossibly wedged in the food, having to be extracted with a long pull.  It has happened to me in restaurants and it kills the meal.  Not just what’s in my mouth, but everything on the plate, it changes the taste for me.  I’m eating sand.

I also like to think that I’m prettier in the kitchen.  I feel competent and swift, I feel like I fit.  This doesn’t happen to me on the bus (crowded, sweaty) or in the grocery store (lumbering, excessive).  Unfortunately, it doesn’t even happen to me on a date with my wife.  I never feel as capable or as beautiful as I do when my fingers are turning one thing into another, kneading bread, turning fish, mixing sauce.  I put more time into choosing measuring cups and bowls than I do earrings or make-up.  My cheeks are rosier, my lips fuller.  Olive oil suits me better than lotions and creams.  I’m more attractive with my hair off my neck, fraying around my face.  I regret having to leave the kitchen again, because once I do I’m back to being me, a person I’m not sure I’m very fond of right now (hair aside).

I’m also not a perfectionist in the kitchen.  You’d think this would be a flaw, that precise measurements and perfectly cooked and presented food were not just handy, but necessary.  Perhaps time and experience have made me skilled.  Or maybe it’s just luck, but things generally turn out, whether I’ve added a rounded spoonful or something less.  I do enjoy following recipes, but I don’t hesitate to add seasoning if I think it’s needed, turn the sheet or cook a minute less.  I feel like I understand the chemistry of baking and the importance of tasting and so, while things still fail from time to time, as long as I’m in the kitchen my self-criticism is tempered and my mostly haphazard approach to life is appreciated.  I’m looking forward to a cooking holiday.

Where are you beautiful?


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