Monday, September 7, 2009

Cooking is like Painting

Cooking can mean different things for different people: a
hassle, a joy, an unwelcome necessity, or a comfort. But for some, cooking is like painting.

The painter and the cook choose their materials with care. The painter selects the paints, the cook selects the ingredients. When able to afford higher-quality materials, both will most likely choose quality over quantity. Just as the painter can choose from a plethora of shades, so can the cook choose from a range of ingredients. However, just because the painter can choose a pre-mixed orange paint as the cook can choose a pre-made beef broth doesn’t mean they will. No—the dedicated painter and cook will create shades and ingredients from scratch when possible. The painter carefully chooses the right amount of yellow and red to create the perfect shade of orange, while the cook chops vegetables and beef bo
nes, roasting them and allowing them to simmer for hours on the stove top. Every once in a while they will find that a pre-made material has excelled their expectations and will opt to substitute it for their own creations, but this is rare.

Both the painter and the cook also choose their tools with care. The painter fingers through canvasses and brushes before selecting the best one for the piece, and the cook carefully ponders knife blades and cutting boards to determine the best-suited tools. The wrong brush or the wrong pan can be detrimental to the creation, but the right tools can help elevate the works of art and food to higher planes.

In both painting and cooking, mistakes are permanent. Once in a while, too much salt can be scooped from a mixture before it is too late, or a smear of the wrong color paint on a canvass can be partially wiped away. But more often, these mistakes become a part of the painting, a part of the meal. It is the talented painter and cook who can incorporate these “mistakes” into their creations—a little too much citrus ends up becoming the star of the dish, and a dab of blue that never meant to be ties the whole painting together. It is these mistakes that challenge the cook and the painter in their crafts—that push them to their limits and often end up the impetus for masterpieces in the right hands.

The painter creates art both for personal reasons as well as for others, as does the cook. The cook, of course, needs to eat, but true joy comes from preparing meals for others, using ingredients and combining them in ways that will nourish and please the guests. The painter, too, can create art that is personally satisfying but will labor over the canvass to create art for others—as a birthday or wedding gift, or simply for those who have been inspirations. Both the painter and the cook possess gifts to share with others, gifts that truly blossom when they refine their skills with others in mind.

The painter and the cook approach the canvass and the kitchen and craft their visions. Both are artists, both are creative, and both inspire the mind, body, and soul.

Parmesan Cliffs by Carl Warner

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