Thursday, September 9, 2010

"A recipe has so many different hands and minds in its history - I cannot recall who taught me what, and what parts I invented. That's the bounderyless pleasure of cooking; no one authorship. What counts is the final taste."
~Ketu H. Katrak

My old boss used to say that cooking was an art, but baking was a science, and she had never understood science. I thought, but never said, that she was being silly, and drawing distinctions where none existed. Both baking and cooking are arts, and like all arts, they take a good deal of natural aptitude, a good deal of dedication, and an eye for beauty. There are many who cook (and bake) well, but without the passion and artisty that would make their final product a work of art. That is the difference between a "competent cook" and a chef.

Food is an especially interesting form of art, because it is so living and so obviously essential for life. Recipes live and change with every person who puts a hand to them. I'm grateful to know that my pierogis taste like busha's, though I know I don't make them exactly as she did. I love forming them into little half moons and crimping the edges down, I love the feeling of connection with the generations before me and the opportunity to bring them to life in my meals. The beauty of that continuity; the beauty of the deeper link, between our little meals at home and the great Meal offered at Liturgy, as well as the beauty of the wholesome and lovingly craft of making good food, can raise up what we do around the kitchen to artistry.

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