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Graduation came and went without serious incident, which was nice. We had a lot of family come to the event, which was even nicer, and that meant there were a few large family meals. There are some serious great cooks among the family members, which is especially nice for me since they love to cook and I hate it.
People who love to cook truly love it and are happiest when flying around a kitchen making lots of good food to feed people. Although I like good food and deeply admire those who are adept at culinary arts, I am not a lover of eating or preparing the stuff. Good food is wonderful, but I would probably be perfectly happy if someone made me a good salad and handed me some fresh fruit. The fabulous cooks are understandably appalled by my indifference to cooking and eating and view me as something of a negative presence in the midst of their culinary business. I think they may see me as a food gremlin or something that threatens the success of the entire process.
Oddly, all three of my children like to cook, particularly my daughter, and are very good at it. My youngest, although not much of a chef, loves to watch cooking shows of all kinds, including baking. He likes cooking challenges and cooking competitions and cooking alone or in teams. Since we don't have television he will sometimes go to my friend's house and watch with her. Personally, if I never saw another cooking show I'd be fine with it, which is why he likes to watch with someone who is not me. In my experience, most people are lovers of cooking or lovers of baking with minimal crossover. The really great chefs I have known are mediocre bakers and the really fantastic bakers are generally less adept at cooking. I think this has something to do with their basic personalities. Experienced cooks like to never measure anything and add this or that as they go along to create a masterpiece of a dish. Bakers have to be very precise, measure everything carefully, and stick to a recipe. You can't just throw this or that into a recipe for pastry or baked goods – it just doesn't work that way.
My daughter is an excellent cook. She likes to play around with recipes and change them if she feels like it. She is also and artist with an artist's personality and flare for creation. Her boyfriend is a chemist and is consequently extremely precise in all that he does. He brews beer and has won several awards for his concoctions. Naturally, she leaves all the baking to him.
Having worked for many years in the food and event end of the hotel business, I have known many chefs, both American and foreign, some educated and trained in France, which is generally considered food Nirvana. I have liked quite a few of them and disliked more than a couple, but they all shared certain personality traits which they demonstrated in varying degrees. Every chef I ever met was a romantic. I suppose this makes sense since they possess an extremely passionate view of cooking and food. I imagine that getting all googly-eyed over a good appetizer is a prerequisite for the job. They are also volatile, emotional, highly verbal, bad-tempered, and unpredictable. I have seen chefs lose it on plenty of occasions and it is always very dramatic. I have heard them scream diatribes at the top of their lungs, insult their workers, their workers mental capacities, and their workers mothers. I have seen them go head to head with other chefs in epic battles of hideous insults and inflamed egos. I have seen them throw entire meals against walls or on the floor, heave pots out doors into alleys, smash sub-standard produce into mounds of nasty mush, and generally behave like lunatics. I have seen them abuse waiters and waitresses, and reduce entire staffs to tears. I have attempted to reason with them, placate them, and fought toe to toe with them. I have made them furious and screaming and reduced them to tears. Some chefs cry very easily. High or low, they are extremely emotional. I once got into a contest of wills with a chef and infuriated him to the point that he was screaming and cursing, red faced, and had a vein pop out on his head and start throbbing. I don't like being screamed or cursed at. I told him that his food tasted like the stuff they used to feed us in the army. He crumpled to the floor and started keening and weeping like a demented mourner at a funeral. The next thing I know I'm patting him on the back while he cried all over my knees. It was comical.
Personally, I just don't think I possess the emotional intensity for grand culinary masterpiece making or even just plain great cooking. I just can't get that worked up over anything, particularly food. Professional chefs have a mind set that is seriously operatic. In my world, if I burn the first batch of pancakes I just toss them out and make some more.
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