The repetitive phases of cooking leave plenty of mental space for reflection, and as I chopped and minced and sliced I thought about the rhythms of cooking, one of which involves destroying the order of the things we bring from nature into our kitchens, only to then create from them a new order. We butcher, grind, chop, grate, mince, and liquefy raw ingredients, breaking down formerly living things so that we might recombine them in new, more cultivated forms. ― Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Wise words from the esteemed Mr. Pollan.
I love how he describes the “rhythms of cooking” and the “mental space for reflection.” When I am at my best in the kitchen, I find this (sometimes elusive) rhythm. My mind empties of its daily worries as I find myself slipping into a more creative space, where things begin to come together and make sense in a way I could not see previously.
This mental process mirrors the physical one that is happening while I cook. In the same way that I find a rhythm in my thoughts, opening up new, creative ways to put ideas together, I find a rhythm in deconstructing and reassembling the raw ingredients before me. I break things down, destroying the natural order – chopping an heirloom tomato, just picked from the vine – and I begin to create a new order as I assemble a meal – a tomato cobbler.
This simple process of breaking down and creating anew never ceases to amaze me. It is one of the true joys of my time spent in the kitchen.
On Mondays I will be sharing some of my favorite words of wisdom about food, cooking, food writing, and coming together around the table. If you have suggestions for quotes to feature here, please let me know.