This week I’ve been doing some experimental cooking. Monday was a Tai-noodle thing with peanuts and chicken and about a half-dozen spices I’ve not worked with – totally new recipe under the gun of people leaving at a certain time and there I am in the kitchen trying to make things work on time and under budget (priced coconut milk lately?). Tuesday was curry chicken with potatoes. Again, something I’ve never cooked before. Thursday I tried a new pasta-salad with Chimichurri instead of the usual Italian dressing stuff. Familial reviews for all three were positive. But that’s not today’s point.As I was slaving away in the kitchen during this thrice-fold event, the thought kept occurring about how much time & effort & preparation & different ingredients all this took. Time slowed. I was clumsy & stumbly & uncertain & huffy at times (likin’ me some ampersands this morning). Had to refer to the recipes between steps and it just didn’t flow the way I like to have my cooking flow.
Can we say ‘learning curve’?
Case in point – I bet the average home-cook in downtown Bangladesh can make chicken potato curry in his sleep in about a third of the time it took me. But, let said Bangladeshi have a go at Mom Decker’s spaghetti – that’s homemade sauce bucko so get that sick rag-goo bottled poison out of yer head! I’m thinking I’ve got the upper hand on that one. Not bragging. It’s down to an art that takes less than an hour.
If at first you don’t succeed – quit. Something like that? Been there, done that, wish I hadn’t (quit, that is). I like music – can’t read a note, but I like music. Tried learning how to read music once or twicet, but that’s like hard to learn for my right-brained self. Never followed up on the efforts. So here I am, bereft and vacant and without what I’ll call a technical understanding of something I greatly enjoy and appreciate.
I also posit that we are too used to seeing the final, finished, and polished result done at the hands of highly paid professionals. Consider the McDonald’s customer-facing menu, replete with deceptive photos of what the food ‘looks like’, organized by this or that or the other thing. Oft overlooked, it is the product of hundreds of man-hours of people in putty-colored meeting rooms, design offices, and printing shops. We don’t see the ugliness that goes in to designing even the mendacity of advertising, let alone the well-done and more beautiful displays.
Yeah, there’s a fear of failure. There’s a fear that what I’m attempting is going to suck and suck bad. Anyone who has ever written anything for public consumption knows this feeling well. And guess what, it has sucked, it does suck, and it shall suck again. Can I get a big true-that!? But you don’t get good at something by doing it one time. And guess what, sucking bad didn’t end my world. It never ended yours – unless you’re talking about a poisoned blow-dart down your throat like that aborigine in that one Bugs Bunny episode. Different kind of sucking altogether.
So – learn the lessons and wear the scars proudly into the future. It simply means you tried and in a world of people who attempt less than what they are comfortable with, that means a lot.