Cooking is one of those activities that fulfills so many basic, and maybe not so basic, human needs. Sure, I suppose its primary function is to combine different sources of nutrition for eating, a necessity for life, but maybe that’s the fine line between eating and cooking. Eating is a necessity, but cooking is a choice.
So, again, this brings us back to the topic at hand, why do I (we) cook? Some people cook to experiment, create, and push the boundaries of what we currently understand about food. The food is designed to take the consumer on a journey, manipulating the five senses to tell a story chapter by chapter, bite by bite. There is little doubt that a meticulously designed multi-course meal can be as impressive and as emotionally challenging as an exhibit at a museum, or a production at a theater. Cooking is art, an art that physically interacts with the beholder.
But, the working mom who is sitting in traffic, rushing to get home to throw fish sticks into the oven and steam vegetables in the microwave, is probably not trying to invoke an existential discussion with her kids about the relationship between Ranch dressing and wavy cut carrots. Though, I’m sure her kids, like ruthless art critics, have opinions about how mom’s “art” pushes the boundaries of what food should be. But, yet, she still cooks. She cooks for her family. She cooks because she is personally invested in nurturing her family with food. She cooks because she loves.
Some of us have a collection of recipes tucked away somewhere we can whip out whenever we are homesick and missing loved ones. We can remember family, laughter, our childhood – all because we made a batch of chocolate chip cookies “just like grandma used to make”. I think we all succumb to a little bit of nostalgia when it comes to comfort food. These family recipes become bridges, connecting family and friends together, but not just the people who were at the dining table at Thanksgiving of ’94, but relatives who live across the country, family that immigrated generations ago, and took with them a recipe their own grandmother made back in their homeland. There will always be a generation gap, be it fashion trends, or technology advancements, but everyone’s gotta eat, and good food will always last the test of time. (Except maybe the mustard ring of the late 1930’s. Go ahead and Google it. It was a thing.)
I’ve taken a fairly long break from this blog, mostly because it started feeling like a chore, a task that I was forcing myself to check off my list each week. Eventually, even I could no longer deny the lack of passion in my posts. In the mean time, I kept cooking and inevitably turned into that dreaded social media foodie picture poster. I started watching some foodie documentaries and after hearing and reading about everyone else’s motivation in the kitchen, I had to ask myself, “Why do I cook?”
The answer: all of the reasons. Its fun, its creative, its communal, its experimental, its science in action, its peace among chaos. Also, I really really like to eat good food. But, that’s only enough to get me in the kitchen and keep me busy with content for Instagram. So, why am I resurrecting this blog?
My Jewish grandmother, over the decades, has put together a collection of her favorite recipes. She is, like most grandmothers, the most selfless and nurturing person I know. Thumbing through her recipes (organized as a fully functional cookbook), I feel like I’ve been transported not only in time, but into her kitchen, sitting at the counter. I hear her voice telling me my blintzes are fantastic, even though it is painfully clear my crepe folding desperately needs some work. I’m excited to announce my new source of foodie blogging inspiration, my grandmother’s cookbook. I’m going to cook every single one of her recipes and document the process here. (Think Julie and Julia.) At the end of the project, I plan to create a cookbook with all her recipes and photos of the food and family. So, I hope you all enjoy the ride and here’s to Operation: Bubby’s Cookbook!