April 27, 2015
I love to cook, and I do it a lot. My mom was a great cook, and she continued to learn and grow throughout her life. During the 60s she even had a Frances Moore Lappé period. Which, apart from other things, did bring up issues of ethics and nutrition. We’d even watch Julia Child on TV as a family. Occasionally Dad would get very excited about a dish, and he would encourage Mom to take very good notes. This was before The Way to Cook was published, there were no videos to buy, let alone YouTube. You paid attention, or you missed it. I started cooking pretty early, and by high school both my sister and I got around the kitchen fairly well. My sister did a lot of the family cooking after Mom started working. She might even be a better cook than me. Someday. :-)
Anyhoo. It seems to me that cooking is really a lot like composing. It’s just that the ultimate aim of each is a little different.
A well prepared meal consists of several dishes which, when combined, create a balanced, delightful and nourishing experience. The same can be said of each individual dish–various ingredients are combined in an appropriate way using any number of techniques–most of which we’re developed thousands of years ago.
Different ingredients bring different favors, and so have a different function. You have a particual piece of food, be it a shoulder of lamb or bunch of kale, and then season it and cook it to produce the desired dish. When it’s time to eat, the presentation is part of the experience, while not necessarily the essence of the dish itself. Both the presentation and the dish itself express the style of the creator.
And we eat for different reasons. We need sustenance, but we also crave an experience, often comfort, or celebration. What we choose to eat for lunch on a Tuesday is not likely to feel right for dinner on Sunday. And eating is something we share with others.
Music is all of these things as well. Well made music is appropriate for the occassion, is meaningful–nutricious even–with the various elements making functionally different contributions to a complete experience.
And you can’t live without it! :-)