Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Adventures of a Kitchen Slave, pt 7, How to cook your life

Lately, I've been seeing things differently. I touch so many things in a day, I can't help but look closer and ponder. My hands get a chance to truly be hands, to create something, kneading dough...forming something from seemingly nothing. I find myself enchanted by the beauty in organic ingredients, the abundance of colors and patterns that can be found occurring naturally in the world around us. Peeling a case of baby corn takes me back to childhood summers in Virginia. My brothers & I would run through the corn fields, playing hide & seek. Our faces and arms would be covered in scratches after, but we didn't mind. Harvest season meant lots of work, and my nimble little fingers were perfect for shucking corn. Turns out, they still are. I love slicing a ripe papaya, the smell of the islands wafting out. Scooping out the seeds, I am amazed at this plants clever method of procreating. Its beauty is nothing short of perfection. Last week, we received a shipment for a fish special...Opaka paka. Basically, a Hawaiian pink snapper, its a great choice for sustainable fishing, as the fishery is carefully managed, stocks are healthy, and the fishing gear used does not cause significant habitat destruction. I was astonished by this creature. Shimmery & pink, with pearly opalescent scales...magnificent.

Repetitive tasks can be soothing after a while, with the hands busy the brain has time to consider other things. To my readers, I promise this will be the last time that I mention my nemesis, the tomato concasse. After coring & blanching these bloody tomatoes, I peel away the skin of each, revealing the flesh underneath, destined to become a gorgeous tomato petal. While repeating this step for every tomato in the crate, I realize that some come out perfectly. The skin peels back in one effortless motion, revealing the smooth flesh, ready to achieve Chef's final vision. Some tomatoes are less cooperative. They just refuse! The skin clings and tears, and the result is not only more time consuming, but also less appealing. Hands busy, mind wandering, I realize that sometimes I'm like one of those stubborn tomatoes. I'm hanging on to some old habits, parts of a former life, instead of shedding my skin for new growth. Silently, I remind myself to be one of the cooperative tomatoes.

While usually painfully aware of the things I need to work on, I realize that I must be doing something right. These days, I see so much beauty in the world, things that I was missing too often before, and this fills my heart with gratitude and love. It's all around me for my viewing, smelling and tasting pleasure. It's all delicious!