Saturday, November 16, 2013

Eat, Drink, Be Merry - the reason I bake

I write here about food and about my life. So far the posts about food have been lacking in the pretty-department, which I see lavished so extravagantly on food blogs by more devoted bloggers. The allusions to my life have been half shadowed and I present no validation for what little I do say, unlike the gut-busting and heart-wrenching (or soothing) expositions from writers more nimble than I. So far, this blog has been rather spartan, hasn't it?
But, I'm learning. Slowly but surely, I'm learning.
I'm dealing with post traumatic stress (I'm told that's a pretty good phrase for it) and emotional repression (...sounds right, come to think of it). More on that as I may. For now, I'm wrapping myself in mystery as a shock patient in a blanket.

So, my blanket is mystery and my teddy bear is cooking.
I cook dinner Monday through Thursday and I'm loving it. I pick meals, ingredients, and I take care of prep, mixing, cooking, and serving. The kitchen is a sanctuary where I make my own choices and I am in control. My Nanny-Family trusts my skills and tastes, and they have granted me a wonderful freedom for that trust.
I take my skills and my materials, I make something good and useful, I offer it to others and they take health and pleasure from it. I create, I give, I am thanked.
It is good.

I cook and bake to have a reprieve from the world, other people, and myself. When I'm working with flour and butter, I'm in my element. I know what to do- vaguely, at least- and I can do it. My arena is peaceful, despite the noise and commotion around me, because I am at peace with myself. I am in full control of my own body and my own brain. My thoughts are directed towards a concrete, definite task. My hands are busy and productive. The kitchen releases me from the pressure of being controlled by someone else, from wonton and useless activity, and from idle thoughts that devolve into brain-spirals of doom. I am refreshed. I am secure. I am covered in flour and I am happy.

I make food to nourish and please. I want to live a life of generous hospitality, and I feel most accomplished in that way when I'm feeding a hungry someone.
I don't even have to have made the food to be happy to share it. An extra pear in my groceries for an old man with a card-board sign and a crippled arm, and I've given something good to one who needed it. The best lunch I've ever had was a box of crackers with cheese, a bunch of grapes, and Italian soda partaken with my best girl on a grassy curb in the city.

Food is simply pleasurable. The sight, the scent, the taste, the feel can fill the mind for one moment with pleasure. Food both sustains our life and makes us more aware of life's beauty.

Sharing pleasure and a source of health is the basis of camaraderie. It's the affirmation of our shared humanity and our friendship. Food is a way I can most clearly give that affirmation- to myself as well as to others. I'm frequently cranky and judgmental, and often socially awkward to boot, so sometimes the nicest thing I am capable of doing is keeping quiet and feeding people. I like how simple that is.

I am a cook. I am a baker. I am a fledgling in my kitchen, but I love it there already.