#44 Michel Roux, I get a kick out of you

I watch an obscene amount of cooking shows. I don’t really know why, I mean, I like cooking and I like baking even more, but, that’s it, really. I like it. I don’t love it, it’s not the Alpha and the Omega of my life.

I mean, Don’t get me wrong, I can get passionate about a tart au citron, and I’ve been known to throw whisks across kitchens should my meringues not go exactly to plan, but, I don’t think this really quantifies the amount of cooking shows and cooking books that I go through. I would go so far as to say my interest in cooking borders obsessive.

Now, you may think that introduction massively contradicts itself, and in a way, it does, but, you see, although the channel for my obsession is cooking, the reasoning behind it isn’t my inherent desire to become the world’s most prestigious Michelin starred chef. Cooking, for me, is simply time not spent thinking about Physics, or getting a paid job over summer, or the fact that I might never be half the woman Billie Holiday was. Cooking is one of the many harmless escapisms, I use to make it through the weeks, months and years of the age where nothing fits.

I feel this is the point in the post when I should get all self righteous about cooking and tell you that it isn’t easy and it isn’t all fun and games, that there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into it. But, the thing about telling you something like that, is that it would be completely fruitless in more than one way.

Firstly, I’m sure you’ve heard that same old boring lecture about how cooking will change the world for centuries to come, and how technically involved it is ,and how scientifically rigourous it is, and how it’s so desperately overlooked it is in terms of achievement, over and over again.

I’m not even going to pretend to think I’m the only person in the world who’s ever taken a fancy in cooking, infact, i’d say it’s probably an incredibly popular hobby, escapism and career, so I’ll spare you the self-righteous twoddle, because I am certain that if you haven’t already encountered it, you will one day, and it’ll make you want to smash your laptop, throw you tv out of the window or rip up the magazine you’re reading.

And secondly, and I must admit, this largely supports the basis for my stance on Firstly, I don’t consider cooking a science. Baking, is slightly more tricky, but I still wouldn’t describe it as highly technical. The ‘damage’ of a hair’s weight difference in egg white whilst preparing a soufflé isn’t equivalent to the damage of a hair’s weight difference that turns a vaccine into a lethal dosage.

Cooking and baking ARE fun and games. They’re highly pleasurable! (I mean, have you ever kneaded bread before? It’s wonderfully therapeutic!) The pressure of cooking only crops up when you apply it. If you have ten covers to prepare in twenty minutes, that because you chose to turn cooking into a job, it’s not because cooking, all of sudden and without warning, got twenty times more difficult. That doesn’t mean to say that all techniques present in cooking and baking are easy, the appreciation for cooking and baking crop up from the fact that although, with practice the average layman could probably prepare a perfect duck a l’orange, the chances that he or she is willing to do so is significantly lower.

The satisfaction you get from preparing a flawless creme brulee can be equated with that of completing a particularly challenging cryptic crossword, in my mind.

In my opinion, both are internally appreciated by your soul in the same way and with this approach I see cooking and baking as nourishment for the soul, I adopt the idea that no knowledge is useless and spend my spare time wondering precisely how long do I cream the butter and sugar together in order to get the most perfectly fluffy sponges. Through exercising thought in stiff peaks of egg white, i allow my subconscious to roam free across the terrain of my mind, and help to solve the problems most troubling to me, whether through a perspective I’d not previously considered or with a new school of thought altogether. In turn, this allows that half hour, or so, of my day to not be a troubled tale of a girl dealing with the woes of life. No, for a while, at least, i’m the protagonist in a story of a woman and her spatula. And that, my friends, is a fine romance.